All That and a Bag of Mail

It’s Friday and I just finished a fifth straight day of radio row in Miami — 15 hours of live radio over those five days — and I’m back in the hotel room gearing up for our “Lock It In” TV show, which will air this afternoon. Then we have a special Saturday edition of “Lock It In,” which will air on the big Fox broadcast network at 3:30 eastern tomorrow.

As always, Super Bowl week has been an absolute zoo.

But this year is even wilder for me because it’s a Fox Super Bowl, meaning there are hundreds of Fox employees everywhere getting ready for the game.

And I’m constantly running from radio to TV to events.

So I’m cranking out the mailbag now before hopping in a car to head down to the “Lock It In” set for TV this afternoon.

With that in mind, let’s go!

Eric writes:

“Will Tom Brady come to the Titans?”

This may sound crazy, but I’m not sure the Titans want Tom Brady. Wildly, I think Brady to the Titans might make more sense for Brady than it does for the Titans. That’s because, as I’ll discuss below, it’s possible Tannehill, given his age and past season, projects better in the next couple of years than Brady does.

Yesterday rumors ran wild that Brady and Gisele had toured a top private school in Nashville. But I never bought into the idea because, guess what, if Brady and Gisele come to Nashville their kids will get in any school they want and it won’t matter when they apply.

Why do they need to tour schools in advance?

The only reason for a truly famous person to publicly tour a school is to try and drive up the price for a place you really want to be.

It’s like if a coach interviews in a public place with another school. If he’s doing that it’s because he wants everyone to see him and he wants the place he’s already with to pay him more money.

I think ultimately Brady will return to the Patriots, but I analyzed the Brady-Tannehill Titans dynamic last week in the mailbag.

Here’s that analysis if you didn’t read it last week. (If you did, you can just skip down to the next question).

Ryan Tannehill is 11 years younger than Tom Brady and coming off the best season of his NFL career. But it wasn’t just a good season for him — Tannehill’s 2019 passer rating was the fourth highest rated of all time.

So the question the Titans have to answer is this: was Tannehill’s 2019 a statistical anomaly or can he replicate it in the years ahead?

If he can replicate it in the years ahead then he should be the guy for the next four or five years for the Titans, that would be an easy call. But can he replicate it? That’s the challenge.

Because if he can’t replicate it then it’s possible the Titans are going to overpay for the equivalent of fool’s gold. They would be drastically overrating Tannehill based on a statistical aberration of a season, which would put them in the same position as the Jacksonville Jaguars are with Nick Foles.

So the question you have to ask is this, was 2019 an outlier for Tannehill or is it his new normal in this Titan offense with this Titan talent?

But you also have to ask and answer questions about Tom Brady too.

In particular, how much has Tom Brady declined and how much of his performance this year was the Patriots simply having a bad offense? Brady’s numbers were awful, especially for him, in 2019. Is that evidence of a substantial decline that will continue in 2020 or will he bounce back for a couple of years to a more Brady-like performance?

Essentially you’re trying to analyze both men this year and simultaneously project the future.

And you’re also trying to determine how Brady would do with the Titan offensive weapons, particularly Derek Henry and A.J. Brown, both of whom appear to be better weapons in 2020 than anyone the Patriots have.

I think the Titans have to seriously consider both options here, but ultimately I’d like to get Ryan Tannehill signed to a two year contract with a team option for a third year. Could you get Tannehill signed to a Nick Foles like deal, around $45 million guaranteed over two years with a third year team option at $25 million+? If so, that would be great for the Titans.

And that seems fair to Tannehill too.

Particularly because of this — does Tannehill really see a better option out there? If you’re Tannehill and you’ve been through the Miami Dolphin mess do you really want to leave a good situation with the Titans just because another team might offer you a bit more money? First, I’m not sure anyone else offers Tannehill more than the Titans will, second, how many of those situations are better for him? After struggling in Miami are you really sure you’d go to a third team and play as well as you did for the Titans?

Having said that, if I’m the Titans and Tannehill plays hardball with us, I’d definitely negotiate with Brady too, offering him a somewhat similar contract. I suspect Brady’s negotiations with the Patriots will ultimately come down to whether or not the Pats will offer him a two year guarantee. (I think the Patriots will want to do a one year deal). If I’m Brady I would only leave the Patriots for a team offering me a two year deal where I could win a Super Bowl. Could the Titans win the Super Bowl in 2020? I don’t expect it. But are they better positioned to win a Super Bowl than most of the other teams that could pursue Brady?

I think so.

So while I’d plan on resigning Tannehill, if his demands are too high, I’d also consider signing Brady to the same deal.

Ben writes:

“In light of the recent Barstool acquisition for $450 million by Penn National Gaming, is Outkick open for a potential merger or acquisition deal?”

Of course.

If you own any business I think you should always be open to anything that makes sense for the business.

I founded Outkick back in 2011 and have written tens of millions of words on this site since that launch. In the process I’ve built a good-sized business. But I’ve kept 100% ownership and stayed highly profitable rather than drive up revenue and employee numbers in the hopes of cashing out down the road.

You can argue whether that decision was smart, but I’ve just seen too many companies get big fast and never actually become profitable.

Outkick has been highly profitable since year one as a company.

If I wanted, for instance, to drive our revenue up ten-fold I could probably do so pretty easily by making a bunch of hires and raising venture capital, but we might lose several million dollars or, at best, break even in the process. So my strategy would go from running a profitable business to working to sell a business. So far I’ve been happy to just run a profitable business. (It’s my understanding, for instance, that Barstool hasn’t been profitable most of the years since Chernin bought the company. But they’ve gotten big fast. And that was the goal. Get big. And, guess what, that strategy paid off big time for them. So congrats.)

The end result, however, isn’t the least bit surprising to me.

Because I started writing and talking about the future of sports content being tied to gambling long before the Supreme Court permitted states to legalize it two years ago.

To me the Barstool acquisition — and others like it — make perfect sense for gambling companies. It’s the best possible way they can spend their money.

I think it’s downright smart and I’m actually surprised it took this long for someone to do what Penn National did. Because I think all gambling companies should create their own original content with the idea being to drive customers to bet on sports via that method.

If your goal is to drive customers to your online sportsbooks, it’s easier to get them there if they come in and consume content they already like than if you try to make them go to your site based on purchased advertising telling them to go to your site.

In other words, the sports content itself should be the advertising for these gambling companies.

You should read my gambling picks and immediately be able to click through and bet on the games, either agreeing or disagreeing with my picks. But you should also read the anonymous mailbag or the Friday mailbag and do the same. The point is, a ton of you reading this right now gamble on sports, why shouldn’t we make it as easy as possible for you to do so while visiting Outkick?

The sports gambling analogy I’ve been making for a long time is this one: think of the sports gambling consumer as the ocean and the companies and people with the best access to that ocean as the equivalent of beachfront properties. Why is beachfront property so expensive? Because it’s a very limited supply and very high demand.

Well, Barstool was beachfront property for sports gambling. And they got paid very well for their company because of where it’s located, with direct access to consumers, i.e. the ocean.

Why do you think we’ve built up a huge database of gamblers — tens of thousands of you all over the country — by having weekly free Outkick gambling games for the past several years? So we can contact all of you and offer gambling opportunities in the future.

The money I might lose in those contests was an investment on the future value of all of your contacts being far more valuable to me than the money I risked.

The same was true, honestly, of our merchandise or our VIPs, I want to have a direct relationship with the people who like Outkick.

Hell, our Outick email list of gamblers is worth millions and millions of dollars by itself when you consider what gambling companies are paying for customer acquisition right now.

So I was happy to see Barstool cash in because a rising tide lifts all boats.

I don’t root against other people in the same industry as me. If I’m an NFL quarterback, I want Patrick Mahomes to make the most money possible because eventually my contract is going to be up too and I want the market to have risen where my deal is as valuable as possible.

Hell, I want Stephen A. Smith, Colin Cowherd, and Skip Bayless to break the sports media bank too. Why? Because they set the market. And if they drive the market higher than that will ultimately benefit me too.

That’s why in the immediate aftermath of Barstool selling my email blew up with companies and VC investors who want a piece of me and Outkick.

I suspect the same is true for many other people with beachfront property in the sports gambling universe.

I’m actually surprised how far behind the sports media has been in seeing this coming market move.

To their credit Fox Sports saw it coming earlier than any other sports company. They launched “Lock It In” four months after the Supreme Court ruling. We’re now the most watched sports gambling show on television and the reality is with the sports gambling money pouring into the advertising marketplace, we have a good chance of being one of the most profitable shows on sports cable TV.

Why?

Not because of total viewers — many shows have more viewers than us — but because sports gamblers are worth 10-20x what a traditional sports TV viewer is worth right now.

Most people still focus on total numbers, but this isn’t a total numbers industry. It’s a total sports gamblers industry.

Which is why you’re going to see more and more sports gambling TV shows in the months and years ahead and why I think you’ll see more and more acquisitions of sports gambling related media companies as well. (You’ll also see a ton of new companies formed, which will manufacture fake traffic and “influence” in an effort to cash in off a hot marketplace. But I think what will ultimately work is a strong relationship between a company and its fans. Barstool has that. And I think we do too).

Bruce writes:

“With the Democrats knowing they are very much beat going into today, what’s next? Democratic in-fighting, a new “damning” accusation relating to something else, what avenue will the Dems take? My guesses are they’ll go back to their roots and try to attack Trump’s character.”

I suspect Trump, if he wins in 2020, will get impeached again.

Hell, he might get impeached multiple times in a four year term.

But this will all be political theater. He isn’t going to be removed from office unless Republicans make the decision that they’d rather replace him with an incumbent Mike Pence because they want to focus on 2024. (But I don’t think that’s very likely because replacing Trump would be bad for the Republican brand).

So the biggest ultimate impact here is the Democrats have turned impeachment into a standard operating procedure. I suspect at least half our next six presidents will be impeached. (And I’d be surprised if any are removed from office).

The craziest thing to me about the entire impeachment process is how little real drama there has been. From the moment it began back in October you knew exactly how it was going to end. It has been like a football game you already knew the final score of, but were trying to pretend was exciting anyway.

What’s amazed me is how many people are so invested in a process they already know the conclusion of. What sense does that make?

Even crazier, it looks like the Democrats, who have made Trump stronger by impeaching him, may nominate Bernie Sanders to run against Donald Trump. Think about this, the Democrats may nominate a 78 year old Socialist who had a heart attack this year — he’ll be 79 on his election — to go up against Trump.

It’s impossible for them to have picked a weaker candidate.

I just keep thinking this is a joke, that there’s no way this will actually happen.

Because I just don’t see any way Bernie beats Trump in 2020.

I’ve never voted for a Republican presidential candidate before in my life.

But if my choices are Bernie Sanders vs. Donald Trump there is a 100% chance I’m voting for Trump. And I think there are millions of people like me out there.

Tyler writes:

“With SEC revenue of $651 million, is there any real way for other conferences to have a chance to catch up?”

Well, the Big Ten is ahead of the SEC right now, but that’s because the Big Ten already cashed in on its game of the week going to market.

Once the SEC adds the new game of the week money the league is going to get a bump from $55 million a year from CBS to at least $350 million a year from ESPN. (And that’s a conservative number).

So if you add in the $350 million a year to the existing $651 million, you’re talking about the SEC going over a billion dollars in revenue at some point in the next five years.

Putting that into perspective, we’re talking about $71 million a year — up from $44 million this year — to each SEC school.

That will likely be more than the Big Ten makes when all of its deals are complete, but the SEC and the Big Ten are going to dwarf the ACC, Big 12 and Pac 12 when it comes to total revenue.

Now money doesn’t guarantee championships — look at Texas, after all.

But it does make them more likely overall.

This revenue gap is going to be so substantial I think the Big 12 and Pac 12 may be forced back into expansion talk or, perhaps, some schools might consider going independent.

I could see Texas, Oklahoma, USC, or, maybe, Oregon, having the national appeal to pull a Notre Dame and go independent. I don’t necessarily think any of these schools would it, but I think they have to consider it.

I could also see the Texas and Oklahoma schools going to the most sought after members of the Pac 12 and trying to create a new conference as well.

Regardless, the point is, the SEC and the Big Ten are going to leave everyone else in the dust.

Caelan writes:

“Argument to those bringing up Kobe’s past: is there any male athlete more feminist than Kobe Bryant became? In my opinion the articles written about him should’ve focused on how he changed for the better into someone who encouraged young girls to succeed higher than expectations.”

I mean, it’s better to not be a feminist and avoid being charged with rape your entire life than to be a feminist, but get charged with rape, isn’t it?

With all due respect, this is a ludicrous argument.

Kobe’s rape charge is a substantial component of his legacy.

Here’s what I wrote about Kobe on Tuesday:

First, when someone dies in a tragic way, my natural inclination is not to focus on the most negative aspects of their public life no matter who they are.
For instance, several weeks ago Don Imus died. I didn’t listen to Imus, but much of social media reacted by praising him for his radio talents. But there was also a substantial portion of social media that focused on the Rutgers nappy headed hoes comments and said he shouldn’t be praised in any way because of what he’d said in the past.
That seemed unfair to me.
Judging anyone in the immediate aftermath of their death for their worst moments — especially when there were many good moments — isn’t the way I choose to respond to death. I try not to immediately speak ill of the dead.
I’m also not someone who goes on social media every time a celebrity dies and tries to talk about what a tremendously important figure they were in my life. That always feels ghoulish to me. If I know someone well, I think it’s perfectly appropriate to discuss that when they die, but I didn’t know Kobe Bryant so I mostly focused on his public profile and the facts surrounding his death more than anything else.
I’ve also talked about the Kobe Bryant rape case quite a bit — most notably when Kobe won an Oscar at the #metoo Oscars and had his jersey retired in LA amid the Harvey Weinstein Hollywood mess. It seemed to me to be intensely hypocritical for Los Angeles to be honoring a man who was charged with rape — and later bought off his accuser — at the same time the community was grappling with the #metoo crisis.
That’s a perfectly appropriate discussion to have about the legacy of Kobe and the extent of Hollywood hypocrisy when it came to a famous athlete.
But in the first 24 hours after his death — and certainly in the first few hours after it — does it really make sense to discuss the rape charge?
Not to me.
Having said that, I don’t see anything worthy of suspension about a Washington Post reporter sharing a story about Kobe’s rape charge, even if that story was shared immediately after his death. Again, I wouldn’t — and didn’t — do it, but I don’t have a problem with someone else deciding to do it.
Essentially what happened here was there was a (nearly) universal outpouring of grief and praise and relatively few individuals chose to challenge that grief and praise by pointing out elements of a life that weren’t praiseworthy. That cognitive dissonance, the difference between the way someone feels and the facts that conflict with that feeling, provoked rage at the information sharer.
Why does this happen? Because our society often has a very black and white standard when it comes to public behavior. People are either good or bad, saints or sinners. The reality, however, is all of us are somewhere in between. Sometimes we do very good things, but sometimes we also do very bad things.
The hope is that at the end of our lives the good will outweigh the bad.
But there are some acts that are so bad it’s virtually impossible to overcome them. For instance, I don’t think when Harvey Weinstein dies that everyone is going to praise his movies and overlook the sexual assault allegations. And I think the same thing is true of Bill Cosby.
It certainly appears that Bill Cosby could have been an incredible comedian, a great father, and a rapist. In fact, it’s altogether possible that the reason Cosby nearly escaped all punishment for his criminal transgressions is because people found it so unbelievable that the man from “The Bill Cosby Show” could be a rapist.
Our minds couldn’t handle the dichotomy.
The same is true of Kobe Bryant even though it’s certainly possible that Kobe was an incredible basketball player, a great father, and a rapist as well.
I think the big questions we run into here are these: what are the limits of redemption and to what extent should the worst moments of a life define you in death? When is your personal behavior so bad that it’s unforgivable? Sports provides an interesting window for that examination. For instance, Mike Tyson was accused of domestic assault by many women, convicted of rape, and served time in prison for that rape, yet now he’s a lovable pop culture figure.
Baltimore Raven Ray Lewis was charged with double murder, switched sides in the middle of his murder trial to testify against his co-defendants, and no one was ever convicted of murder in that case. In fact, we’ve never found the white suit he wore that night and we still don’t fully understand what happened that evening. No one has ever been brought to justice for those murders. Yet Ray Lewis has a statue outside the Baltimore Ravens stadium and is in the NFL hall of fame.
Ray Lewis, in fact, has received far more redemption — and far less consequences — for his double murder charges than Ray Rice did for punching his wife. Now partly you can attribute that to Lewis’s talent being more substantial than Rice’s, partly you can attribute it to the era and to the fact that Rice’s acts were on video, but is there anyone out there, who if forced to pick, wouldn’t rather be charged with domestic violence than double murder?
Yet Rice is the one who remains a social pariah and Lewis is redeemed.
How does that happen? If anything, shouldn’t those roles be reversed?
I think all of these are interesting and important questions and like most interesting and important questions, I don’t necessarily think they have easy answers.
So while I don’t have a problem with the Washington Post reporter sharing articles about the Kobe Bryant rape case within the hour of his death, I also wouldn’t personally have made that decision.
But I’m also incredibly troubled by the Washington Post decision to suspend this reporter. Because ultimately her job, and the job of any reporter, is to share facts that help us to better understand news stories. Kobe’s rape charges are indisputably factual and they directly impact — and complicate — his legacy.
Even more importantly, I feel like we have come to live in an era where if the facts are uncomfortable or challenge people’s preconceived notions or hurt their feelings that it’s somehow inappropriate to share them. The fact that the executive editor of the Washington Post, Marty Baron, emailed this reporter, “Felicia, a real lack of judgement to tweet this. Please stop. You’re hurting this institution by doing this,” is troubling to me.
In my opinion, it’s not the job of a reporter to make people feel better, it’s to share information that makes them better informed.
I don’t believe you can discuss Kobe’s legacy without addressing the facts behind these rape charges. It’s a huge part of his life story. And, again, as much as many may find it impossible to believe, it’s possible for Kobe to be a great basketball player, a good father and a rapist.
Personally, I’m far more troubled by ABC News reporting all four of Kobe’s daughters were dead in the helicopter crash than I am by this Washington Post reporter sending out an article about Kobe’s rape charges. Why? Because ABC got something 100% factually wrong. The Washington Post reporter was factually accurate, just insensitive. To me, the reporter who should be suspended is the person who got the story wrong, not the person who hurt some people’s feelings.

Jace writes:

“On Sunday, a lot of people called for the cancellation of the NBA games that day. Some people said Kobe would want them to play on. So, when you die, do you want sports journalism/radio to completely take the day off to mourn you or do you want them to soldier on?”

Ha ha, I’d want you all to soldier on.

The truth of the matter is this, no matter how famous you are things pretty much go back to normal about 36 hours after you die.

We all matter much less than we think we do.

Which is why we should all take ourselves much less seriously than we do and have more fun in our lives.

Okay, I’m off to the TV set.

Thanks for reading Outkick!

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