All That and a Bag of Mail

It’s Friday, time to make you all smarter as we head into the weekend.

This week’s Wins and Losses podcast guest is Penn State football coach James Franklin. I’d encourage you guys to go check it out. And if you haven’t already done so, there are now 25 pretty outstanding long form interviews with a variety of people, from Colin Cowherd, Kirk Herbstreit, Mike Leach, Paul Finebaum, Art Briles and Jason Whitlock to SEC commissioner Greg Sankey and 247 Sports and Rivals businessman Shannon Terry. You can learn a great deal. Go check them out.

Now on to the mailbag.

The most common questions I got all week were about the coronavirus.

So let’s dive into that question off the top.

I believe fear of the coronvirus is far more dangerous than the actual coronavirus.

Twice as many people died from tornadoes in Tennessee this week — 25 — as have died in America from the coronavirus so far — 11. In fact, as one of you pointed out when I tweeted out his picture this morning in a mask, OJ Simpson has killed more people in California, two, as the coronavirus has, one.

I am not changing my behavior at all. My kids are presently out of school — I just had to go downstairs and yell for them to be quiet while they are playing Madden — because one person in the state of Tennessee has the coronavirus and he lives just south of Nashville in Franklin. So they have shut down schools here in Williamson County, where we live.

Last night we had the kids sit around the table at dinner and we talked about the coronavirus with them.

I’m telling you guys almost the exact same thing I told them. (I talk to my kids like adults even if they are sometimes too young to process everything.)

Here’s what I told my kids.

First, the World Health Organization says the coronavirus is less contagious than the flu. That’s important because it suggests the transmission of the virus isn’t as easy as was initially feared. Given that we’ve never changed our behavior as a family over the flu then we aren’t going to change our behavior over the coronavirus. That means I’m going out to dinner with my wife tonight, I’m coaching my son’s little league baseball team on Saturday and that next week I will take my entire family to watch the SEC Tournament.

The week after that is spring break and we will get on planes and do a split spring break. My wife will be taking the two youngest kids to ski in Colorado and I’ll be taking the oldest kid, who hates skiing, down to the beach in Florida with me for a couple of days around the weekend.

We aren’t changing our family behavior at all because of the coronavirus.

In fact, the only thing I told my kids that I wanted them to do was vampire sneeze — into your elbow instead of into your hand — and to wash their hands. (And not pick their noses). My five year old listened decently well because about an hour later he came running downstairs saying he had to wash his hands because he’d picked his nose. Then this morning he told me he hadn’t picked his nose all morning, but he wanted to wash his hands just in case he’d picked his nose and forgotten about it.

Second, there isn’t a single child under ten that has died of the coronavirus in the entire world. If you have young kids, this can alleviate a big fear of theirs. We don’t know why exactly, but young kids don’t seem to be impacted by the coronavirus. (That doesn’t mean they can’t be carriers of the virus, just that they don’t seem to manifest it).

Third, over 80% of people who get the coronavirus have either no symptoms or limited symptoms. That means the vast majority of the country would have zero issues with infection. Now the downside of this is that one reason the coronavirus spreads is because people who don’t realize they have it continue their regular daily routines. This is also, by the way, how the outbreak in Washington state began. The coronavirus was actually circulating in the state for six weeks before anyone realized it was there. Indeed, several of the ten people who have died of the coronavirus in a Washington state nursing home were only tested for coronavirus after they’d died. People at the nursing home just thought those patients had died of the flu or pneumonia, turns out it was the coronavirus.

Fourth, there are just over 3,000 people worldwide who have died of the coronvirus so far, the vast majority of those who have died coming in China and the vast majority also being over the age of seventy. Indeed, if you aren’t a senior citizen who is already in ill health the chances of the coronavirus killing you, no matter where you live in the world, are nearly zero.

Fifth, China has virtually stopped the transmission of the virus in their country and the outbreak is rapidly ending there. Significantly, China was able to stop the spread of the disease after tens of thousands of people already had the illness and after thousands had died. Here in the United States we are fighting it aggressively and there are only 250 known cases in the country. That number is likely to increase, but unlike China we are catching it at the outset. This suggests to me that within a month we will likely have stamped out almost all infections in our country. (I also believe that as the weather improves the virus, like almost all viruses around the world, will spread less rapidly).

Sixth, I am more concerned with how less medically and technologically advanced countries handle their own outbreaks than I am how we handle it in the United States. So, if anything, I think we should aggressively screen people entering our country and consider shutting down any arrivals from countries like Iran, where the disease seems to be spreading more rapidly.

Seventh, yes the death rate appears to be around 3%, but that’s mostly based on early deaths in China. And the death rate is much lower outside of China. What’s more even the death rate in China has declined precipitously once they realized what disease they were fighting and how to combat it. So the death charts you see circulating on social media are just fear porn. They aren’t rooted in present day reality. (By the way, some people want to argue that China’s not being accurate with their numbers, and that may well be true, but what I’d say is look to the business side of things. Starbucks are open back up across the entire country. The casinos of Macau are opening back up. If the virus were still transmitting at a high rate these businesses wouldn’t be reopening. China has been through the worst of the virus and emerged on the other side. And the worst of the virus appears to have cost them about 3,000 lives. Given that their country has over triple our country’s population, I’d put the likely coronavirus death total at around 1,000 people in the United States, almost all of them elderly and already ill. To be sure this isn’t ideal, especially since I hate death more than everyone in the country, but we’re talking about the coronavirus killing far fewer people in our country than the seasonal flu does on a yearly basis.

Eighth, the media traffics these days in fear porn. That is, they find something that creates ratings, frequently it is fear, and they drive it into the ground. Imagine what the news would look like if they covered outbreaks of the flu like they are covering the coronavirus infections. Every year tens of thousands of people die of the flu and yet most Americans aren’t willing to get flu shots. Hell, millions of people have HIV and many Americans aren’t willing to wear condoms during sex. Yet the same guy who doesn’t get a flu shot and won’t wear condoms is walking around wearing a mask, it’s totally nonsensical.

The simple truth is this, you and your family are likely to be completely fine and be totally unharmed by the coronavirus. The fear of the coronavirus, to me, is much more problematic and scary now than the actual coronavirus.

The best thing you can do is not change your lifestyle at all except wash your hands more frequently than usual.

Whatever you do, don’t allow your fear to lead you to make irrational choices. It’s highly likely that the flu is going to to kill tens of thousands more people this year in America than the coronavirus. If you didn’t change your lifestyle for the flu, why are you changing it for the coronavirus?

Put simply, I’ll see you at the SEC Tournament next weekend and the beaches the weekend after that.

And if you truly can’t stop worrying about the coronavirus, I have an easy solution, get off social media. Seriously, just log off Facebook and Twitter and stop reading the panicked posts from other people. Social media thrives on fear because fear is primarily an emotional, and not logical or rational, response.

Finally, some people are going to say or Tweet, “WAIT, YOU SHARED THAT SOCCER COACH VIDEO AND APPLAUDED HIS RESPONSE TO A CORONAVIRUS STORY, WHY ARE YOU WRITING ABOUT IT NOW?!”

Of course I shared that video.

Here it is if you haven’t already seen it.

I think many of you found it refreshing that Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp was willing to admit he lacked expertise in a subject and that he indicted the idea that famous people should opine on everything simply for being famous. I admit all the time when I don’t know enough to have an opinion on an issue. Admitting that you don’t know enough to have a strong opinion on something is a sign of intelligence, not stupidity.

If you don’t know the facts of any situation you shouldn’t muddy the waters by feeling the need to opine on it, further creating disinformation and hysteria.

But I’ve spent a ton of time researching and reading about the coronavirus and I think that right now there aren’t enough intelligent people sharing the facts.

You can disagree with my opinion, but the facts I shared above about the coronavirus are incontrovertibly true.

In my opinion the fear of the coronavirus is now a bigger issue in America than the actual coronavirus.

Jason writes:

“What are your thoughts on ESPN’s pursuit of Peyton Manning and reportedly Al Michaels for Monday Night Football?”

I think it’s smart.

Look, I think Disney/ESPN wants to move Monday Night Football to simulcast on ABC and ESPN and I also think they want to get into the Super Bowl rotation. In order to do so, Disney/ESPN has to impress the NFL. One way to impress the NFL is to put together an all star broadcast team. Why does that impress the NFL? Because it puts their product in the best possible light.

Peyton Manning and Al Michaels would be a hell of a tandem. (The New York Post has reported that Disney is willing to trade with Comcast/NBC to get Al Michaels. If so, this would be Michaels’s second trade. He was previously traded from Disney/ABC to Comcast/NBC for Oswald the Rabbit. Really. Oswald was the first cartoon character created by Walt Disney, before he made Mickey Mouse. Disney lost the rights to Oswald based on an early contract he signed, necessitating the creation of Mickey Mouse. And Disney had always wanted to get Oswald back. So they got him in exchange for Al Michaels.)

Anyway, sending a message to the NFL was the reason Tony Romo got $18 million a year from CBS and that’s the reason ESPN is throwing big money at Peyton Manning. Manning’s an instant form of credibility. If Disney gets the Super Bowl for ABC that’s probably a $600 million dollar impact every four years. You can pay for Peyton Manning’s yearly salary with three thirty second ads during the Super Bowl.

What’s more, it’s also possible Disney/ESPN is looking to expand beyond Monday Night Football. Maybe they make a run at Thursday Night Football or the NFL Sunday Ticket as well. Essentially Manning is beloved by the NFL. Getting him under contract strengthens Disney/ESPN’s relationship with the NFL in a big way.

The funniest thing to me about the entire $20 million offer is it was only a few years ago that ESPN investigated a twenty year old mooning incident involving Manning like it was the Aaron Hernandez case. It was on Outside the Lines, the lead story on SportsCenter.

CSI: Asscrack.

They treated Manning like he committed a sexual assault when he mooned a woman in the University of Tennessee training facility.

Now they’re ready to make him the highest paid sports media member of all time.

That’s truly remarkable.

And also a sign of how much of the #wokecenter era ESPN has repudiated of late.

WWII Lieutenant writes:

“What’s 500 million divided by 327 million? Asking for an MSNBC anchor and New York times reporter?”

Surely they meant to make fun of the math here and just blew their answers.

Right?

Right?!

(It’s actually a little over a dollar per person in the United States, by the way. Just a bit off from a million per person.)

“Lots of you emailed and Tweeted, what do you think about Biden’s Super Tuesday comeback?”

There are many angles to hit on Joe Biden’s incredible comeback, but I think the one that needs to be focused on the most is this: black voters stood by Biden and rejected socialism in South Carolina. That was the key to everything for Biden. I think black voters in South Carolina — and all over the South — rewarded loyalty more than anything else. They saw Joe Biden stand behind Barack Obama for eight years and they stood behind Biden for his support of Obama.

I respect that immensely because it’s a repudiation of identity politics.

There were plenty of black candidates running for president — Kamala Harris, Cory Booker, Deval Patrick — who black voters could have supported instead, but they stood by Biden. While candidates like Cory Booker dropped out and blamed voters for not embracing diversity, the truth was, black voters trusted Biden more than they trusted Harris, Booker or Patrick.

What’s more, there were plenty of rich candidates, Tom Steyer and Michael Bloomberg, who tried to buy the black vote as well.

But black voters rejected that gambit too.

Most significantly, black voters in South Carolina uniformly rejected socialism and Bernie Sanders. If they had split their vote then Biden would have probably had to drop out of the race.

Instead Biden’s firewall in South Carolina, built upon the loyalty of black voters, stood firm. At that point the writing was on the wall for Mayor Pete and Amy Klobuchar. To their credit they both bowed out of the race, realizing they had no chance to be the nominee. That gave Biden, still buoyed by support from black voters, a springboard to snag ten of the 14 states on Super Tuesday, including upsets in Massachusetts, Maine and Minnesota.

I was incredibly happy on Tuesday night — and not just because Tennessee went into Kentucky and won at Rupp Arena — because Bernie’s candidacy went down in flames.

I voted in the Tennessee primary on Super Tuesday — which is an open primary, meaning you can pick either party’s primary to vote in — for Joe Biden. Why did I vote for Biden? Because I wanted to vote against Bernie Sanders as many times as possible. (I would have voted against him in the general election as well).

Now I think Biden will be your Democratic nominee and the big question is this, who will he pick as his vice presidential running mate? If I were advising him I’d tell him to pick the best possible candidate from the Midwest. I know people say the vice president doesn’t matter, but I think it matters a great deal for Biden, given his age and apparent wobbliness with his mental faculties.

I suspect Biden will feel a great deal of pressure to pick a minority running mate — someone like Kamala Harris or Stacey Abrams — as a nod to the identity politics wing of his party. But he could offer the Attorney General job to Kamala Harris and I don’t think Stacey Abrams has enough experience to be vice president. She’s a less accomplished Sarah Palin or Dan Quayle.

The smarter play is to lean into the Midwest and take either Ohio senator Sherrod Brown — who could potentially put Ohio back in play given his popularity there — or Amy Klobuchar to seal off Minnesota and reach out to the Big Ten states.

Remember, Donald Trump won the states of Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin by a combined total of 77,000 votes.

Despite what anyone else writes or tells you this is where the election will be decided.

Cory writes:

“If the Titans get Brady, it means they are definitely going all in to win a championship now. Do you think they will try to pick up anyone else?”

Sure.

But the bigger issue right now is at quarterback and running back.

Both Derrick Henry and Ryan Tannehill are unrestricted free agents.

If the Titans franchise tag Derrick Henry they can’t franchise tag Ryan Tannehill too. (If the CBA fails the Titans could franchise tag and transition tag both Henry and Tannehill, but if the CBA passes they could only use one of these tags. So one possibility is the Titans transition and franchise tag both men and then try to trade Tannehill before free agency starts.)

But what happens if you don’t franchise tag Tannehill and then Tom Brady either stays with the Patriots or goes elsewhere in free agency?

Then the Titans are probably going to lose Ryan Tannehill too because he’d hit the free agency open market and someone might well bid more than the Titans.

So in that case the Titans would be losing Tannehill and Marcus Mariota — as well as missing on Brady — and have to go back to the drawing board when it comes to finding a starting quarterback and a back up quarterback for 2020.

Do they go with Phillip Rivers or Teddy Bridgewater as their starter? Maybe. But they’d have to move quickly on both those guys because there would be a great deal of interest out there. Right now Rivers is favored to end up with the Colts. Would he prefer the Titans? Maybe. I also think there’s a decent chance Tampa Bay signs Bridgewater to replace Winston. Would Bridgewater prefer Tampa Bay or the Titans? And what would both pay? Because I bet it would come down to money more than anything else.

The most absurd situation of all would be if the Titans got left standing in a game of quarterback musical chairs and ended up signing Jameis Winston, also left standing in a game of quarterback musical chairs, and giving him the starting job.

Talk about brutal.

Regardless, the quarterback free agency is going to be incredible theater.

I can’t wait.

And I agree with you that the Titans are going all in on a Super Bowl run now by pursuing Brady.

Hope you guys have a fantastic weekend. Thanks for reading Outkick.

And remember, all proceeds from the Outkick store this week go to support tornado victims in Tennessee.

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