All That and a Bag of Mail

It’s Friday and I’m currently awaiting the arrival of the White Death in the Outkick Mansion. Snow will be here at any moment — in theory — and I’ve got the sleds lined up by the front door and the boys are begging to go outside and play.

So fingers crossed we actually get some snow.

In the meantime, let’s dive right into the mailbag and make the world a more sane place.

“A ton of you, what do you think about Trump’s shithole comments?”

Here’s my thing with Trump, he’s his own worst enemy. Leaving aside the insult itself, there’s no reason to say something like this because it gains him nothing at all. There’s no one who didn’t like Trump and now likes him more because of the shithole comment and there’s no one who liked him already and likes him more because of the shithole comment. It’s just valueless from a purely objective perspective.

And that’s ashame because the stock market is up another 200 points today and rapidly approaching 26,000. Median income on a per capita basis has never been higher in the history of America. (This means the family in the exact middle of the American income distribution spectrum has never been more wealthy than they are right now from a per capita basis). And the unemployment rate has never been lower for people of all races.

So from a purely objective measure the American economy has never been better.

I believe Trump’s tax cuts, particularly the corporate tax cut from 35% to 21% is the right decision and I believe we’ll see substantial positive impacts from that move.

But, and this is a big but, Trump is his own worst enemy with his inability to get out of his way. The shithole comments are a perfect example of this. Given the economic situation in this country, which is fantastic on almost any level, he should have an approval rating in the upper 50% range.

If you just took Twitter away from him and had a competent person write his public statements on a teleprompter, he’d be very hard to criticize and look like a lock to win again in 2020.

Because, again, he hasn’t really done very much of a negative basis other than say and Tweet things people don’t like. The objective reality of the American economy is great and I think it’s totally fair to say his moves have so far been good for American business. Now we can get into a huge debate about how much credit or blame the president deserves for the economy — I think when it comes to the economy the president is like the quarterback of a football team, he gets too much credit and too much blame — but even if you leave the economy aside Trump managed to get Neil Gorsuch, an eminently qualified jurist, confirmed to the Supreme Court and essentially defeat ISIS in his first year in office.

And right now he’s trying to get a grand immigration reform bill done which would go a long way towards rewarding merit as opposed to family connections. Up next after that is an infrastructure bill that our nation desperately needs.

When you consider all of that what has he done that’s objectively bad other than say and Tweet things that trigger his opponents? I mean, George W. Bush took us to war in Iraq and we wasted tens of thousands of lives and trillions of dollars in a worthless war there. That’s the worst decision any president has made in my lifetime. Bill Clinton got a blow job from an intern and triggered an impeachment crisis over his under oath lies about that sexual dalliance.

I’m at a genuine loss for someone to point me to anything Trump has done that is anywhere near as bad as either of these things. (And, for the record, I don’t care about the Clinton blow jobs. I think the Iraq war is an infinitely worse decision than that, but I think it’s fair to say that Clinton’s actions did cause a Constitutional crisis).

Trump is effectively running a reality show presidency. It’s garish, lurid, brash and perhaps recklessly casting aside hundreds of years of precedent, but it’s not in any way, at least not so far, leading to actual bad actions.

Does he hurt people’s feelings? Sure. Does he make his opponents mad? Sure. But he’s doing almost all of those things with words. I tend to focus on actions more than words. And when you look at his actual actions, what has he done that’s so awful? Not much. Moreover, I actually think a ton of his Tweets are actually tongue in cheek and pretty damn funny. How can you read Tweets where Trump says, “I’m, like, really smart,” and a “very stable genius” or the Little Rocketman lines directed at North Korea and not laugh?

Any objective analysis of his presidency has to return to things being pretty damn good right now in this country. I personally just wish he’d get Twitter taken away from him, read a teleprompter for the next three years, and decide not to run for reelection in 2020. But I don’t foresee any of that actually happening so I’ll be damned if I’m going to get that worked up about Trump’s Tweets on a daily basis.

They’re just glittering distractions for the media to chase and obsess over.

Mark writes:

“As somebody who works in the sports ticketing/hospitality industry I can tell you from a sales and dollar side, there has been a MASSIVE decline in the demand for tickets to NFL games and a very slow demand for this years Super Bowl in Minneapolis.  Now I am sure it will be met with “Yea well nobody wants to go to Minnesota in February!” but I can tell you as somebody who has been doing this for 16+ years, The Super Bowl in Detroit was a huge demand.  The demand for tickets is not only down in the secondary market but all you have to do is turn on the TV and see the huge swaths of empty seats and see that people are just not showing up.  On Christmas I had the Ravens game on and my wife even remarked “Why are there so many empty seats?” and she has not followed this as close as I have.  I can also tell you that when talking to corporate clients who entertain at these major sporting events, they are staying away from the NFL on all levels.   

My question for you is this: At what point does not only the NFL but the simplistic dullards who only see this through the lens of “EVERYBODY IS AGAINST US WON’T SOMEBODY THINK OF US!!!” realize exactly WHAT is slowly killing the one true golden goose of sports and try to make a change that goes to the root of the problem.  People come to sports for entertainment and the escape from the day to day REAL issues we face.  Not the made up world of faux racism that Michael Bennett lied about, but actual issues that happen and need addressed.  My fear is we have gone down such a path socially and sports-wise with the NFL that there is no return.  All the other leagues and college sports have avoided it and are thriving (see the NBA, NHL, NBA) and it seems lost on the NFL.  Ticket sales, attendance and ratings don’t lie. We all see the numbers and I can see the actual sales.  Will the foot stomping social warriors ever?”

Today on AM Outkick we talked about the fact that you can get playoff tickets to every NFL stadium for $150 or less. You can go to the Steelers home playoff game for $75! That’s insane when you consider how diehard that fan base is. But given the fact you can get into every game, featuring home games for the Eagles and Vikings who haven’t won that much over the past several decades, that’s wild to me.

Combine that with the fact that NFL ratings are down nearly 20% off two years ago and playoff ratings were down 13% last week and I think anyone with an objective analysis of this situation has to acknowledge that the NFL’s brand has been severely damaged by the last two years of protests.

But here’s the deal, the vast majority of Americans have no business sense whatsoever. They think like employees not like business owners. If you show a business owner a 20% decline in business over the past two years, that owner will implement drastic changes to rectify this situation lest his company go bankrupt.

One of my top bits of career advice for everyone is to think like an owner not like an employee.

The NFL business got so good that players and, I think, to a certain extent owners too, stopped thinking about where their money came from. Ultimately every dollar is connected to the fans. Sure, TV, media, and ad companies may be paying the NFL money, but the reason they’re doing that is because of the NFL’s ability to reach fans.

Fans don’t want politics mixed with football. Football is their escape.

Now the media wants politics mixed with football because most sports stories, to be honest, aren’t very interesting and these days sports stories are immediately commodified on social media. That is, the moment someone breaks news it’s everywhere. Does anyone even read stories about games anymore? So the media has pushed more and more into analysis and beyond analysis has come social justice warriordom meets sports. And who has led that charge more than anyone? ESPN. And ESPN is seeing the same thing happen to it as happened to the NFL, ESPN and ESPN2’s combined ratings last year were down nearly 15%.

Holy shit!

Can you imagine losing 15% of your audience in one year? If ESPN were smart at all they’d be saying, we will never mention politics on this network again. Instead they’re promoting the people who talk about left wing politics the most.

It’s pure insanity from a business perspective.

Not to mention, ESPN is killing the golden goose. When they attack the NFL over political issues they guarantee that their own most valuable asset, Monday Night Football and the single playoff game, will be less valuable. It’s pure nonsense.

The result is Fox, NBC, CBS, and ESPN will miss their revenue projections by over $500 million this year. At some point that hit in revenue has to rebound and cost the NFL money too.

So stay out of politics and talk sports!

Now inevitably my critics will say, “WELL, YOU TALK ABOUT POLITICS, CLAY!”

First, I own my business and can talk about whatever I want. And I’m a business man and I look at the results of my content and I see my audience growing in a rapid fashion. So I think what I’m doing for my business is working well. Would it work on Fox or ESPN for television? Who knows? But it works well for me.

Second, I do politics it in a pretty objective fashion. I’m talking in a reasonable way to mostly reasonable people who are being overlooked by obsessives on the left and right wings in the country. The sports media has gone so far left wing that if you just talk about sports and politics in an objective fashion you seem conservative.

That’s why I love seeing you guys defend me against critics on social media. “Clay Travis is racist or sexist or a homopohobe,” or whatever other insult people want to throw out there, say my critics. And then you guys are like. “Okay, show me evidence of this.” And the critics never can!

Because somehow I’m making a living off being the most reasonable man in sports and politics. It’s insane that I’ve become the voice of reason in America today, but here we are.

Jeremy writes:

“What are your thoughts on both Jon Gruden and Herm Edwards leaving pretty high-profile media jobs to return to coaching at a time when traditional sports media seems to be about to collapse. Are their agents reading the tea leaves and telling them that now is the time to go? Do we begin to see an exodus of ex-coaches and players who are currently working media jobs? Story worth exploring that seems consistent with a lot of the things that you write about.”

I think it’s indicative of the fact that television contracts are going to come crashing back down to earth unless you’re one of a handful of can’t miss personalities.

Fox and NBC both drove up talent salaries when they launched FS1 and NBC Sports Network. Suddenly there were multiple bidders out there for everyone and it was a great time to be in the sports media business. But now ESPN is firing people and Fox and NBC aren’t really hiring.

The result is those bidding wars have dried up and we’ve actually started to see quite a few national people at ESPN or Fox go back to local news sports stations. Those aren’t bad jobs because local news people can make big salaries, but I think you’re also seeing agents tell Gruden and Edwards, “Look, you can make much more money in coaching than you can in TV right now.”

So I think it’s a combination of TV salaries reaching a plateau and coaching salaries continuing to accelerate. If you have to invest in either TV or coaching, it’s the right time to put the coaching assets to work and leave behind TV.

This was why I always thought people arguing Gruden would never leave Monday Night Football were idiots. First, ESPN was going to lose Monday Night Football at some point in the near future and second, they weren’t going to be able to pay what they did in the past.

Dan writes:

While poking around the bargain movie bin at the store, I came across a real “gem” of a movie called “The Layover.” I wouldn’t have even looked at it except it stars Alexandra Dadarrio and Kate Upton. The plot is, and I quote: 

“Two friends on a road trip compete for the affections of a handsome man when their flight is redirected by a hurricane.”

Said handsome man is played by some low-rent Gosling named Matt Barr. I have never seen Matt Barr in anything I remember and didn’t purchase the movie for fear I’d be accused of buying it only for boobs. And that would be a safe assumption. A few questions for your boob guru-ness:

1) Is this the hottest duo ever placed on screen together? I mean this has to top Monroe/Russell in “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes” right?

2) This has to be the absolute apex of Matt Barr’s career, right? A Penthouse Forums plot with two of the hottest women in the world “fighting” for your affection. Surely, his dad is the producer or he won the actor Powerball. It’s his duty to flub lines during any sex scenes to prolong that, isn’t it? How hard did he lobby for a threesome at the wrap party? 

3) Is it harder to accept some of the #MeToo movement’s gravity when stuff like this gets put out. Nobody is chuckling harder at Hollywood eating itself more than me, but on one hand you have actresses saying the world is going to change and on the other hand you have “two insanely hot, buxom girls will drink and fight like dogs in heat over…Matt Barr!” It starts to seem disingenuous and I wonder if ANYTHING will change.

Anyway, given the cast, I figured this was in the Travis Spank Bank somewhere and might be elevated to Outkick Hall of Fame. Keep up the good work.”

I’ve never heard of this movie, but I immediately went to Mr. Skin and checked to see if there was any nudity in the film.

The answer?

Nope.

So my question for you would be this, who greenlit an R-rated romantic comedy starring Kate Upton and Alexandra Daddario — and featuring sex scenes with both — and didn’t include any nudity?

Now on to your questions, I think the hottest “mainstream” movie ever released in theaters is “Wild Things” starring Denise Richards and Neve Campbell. That pool scene they do together is flat out amazing. Matt Dillon must have traded years off his life to be able to star in this movie.

As for Matt Barr, I have no idea who he is but given that his dad’s a former football coach and he grew up in Texas and is 33 years old this seems like the perfect guy who is an Outkick reader and he’s reading the mailbag looking to get entertained on a Friday and he just gets slammed out of nowhere.

Every now and then this happens to me too, I’m just reading something and out of nowhere I get slammed in an article. Or I’m reading Volquest to check on the latest Tennessee recruiting class and there’s a thread entitled, “I hate Clay Travis and hope he dies.”

And I’m like, dude, I’m just checking to see the recruiting rankings, what have I done to piss people off today?

And you know what’s pissing me off right now? Zero fucking snow.

Hope y’all have fantastic Fridays and weekends.

 

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