All That and a Bag of Mail

It’s Friday, rejoice!

I’ve been out in Los Angeles all week working on marketing and promotion for our new “Lock It In” television show and that’s been pretty awesome to do, but I’m looking forward to getting back home for Thanksgiving week.

FYI, I’ll be doing a booksigning down on 30A on the Saturday after Thanksgiving at the Hidden Lantern bookstore in Rosemary Beach.

I will donate $10 from every book signed and sold to hurricane relief down there and we’ll come up with something additional to do as well for the hurricane victims on the gulf coast going forward. But if any of you will be down there for Thanksgiving on the Gulf Coast I’ll be doing that signing on the Saturday after Thanksgiving from 12-2.

Lots of you, “what do you think of Donald Trump and the White House banning Jim Acosta from covering the White House?”

I think it’s a fascinating question because it’s an issue I’ve dealt with many times over my career.

Let me explain what I mean.

Every college or pro sports team runs its press box like a feudal kingdom because they get to set the standards for who can be credentialed and who can’t. There are limited seats in a press box and there are far more media members who would like to use those seats than, generally speaking, there are press box seats.

When I first started writing online the Southeastern Conference had an incredibly antiquated policy designed to deal with the Internet. Their policy was you had to write for a publication that actually published written content. If you just wrote on the Internet that didn’t count.

So when I wrote my first book, “Dixieland Delight,” no SEC school would credential me. That was despite the fact that I was writing for In order to get credentialed CBS, which was an Internet website and didn’t have a print publication, had to get involved and CBS wouldn’t spend the time to fight those battles on my behalf. I just wasn’t important enough to them.

Now the intent of the policy was to keep every single fan who wrote a blog on the Internet from qualifying for credentials so I certainly understand the intent. But in practice it allowed the individual schools tremendous power over what was written about their programs. If you were too negative, well, you might not qualify to be allowed in the press rooms to ask questions. If you were well liked, well, they could make an exception to their policy.

This meant that a massive site like Yahoo Sports, with millions of daily readers, didn’t meet the SEC’s credentialing requirement, but a tiny local community newspaper did.

It was crazy.

When I was writing online at FanHouse many SEC schools would refuse to credential me under this policy, the fact that our website didn’t produce written content. I always wanted to scream, “But that’s the entire purpose of the Internet, so you don’t have to produce paper articles!”

When I started Outkick some would refuse to credential me as well.

That was despite the fact that my audience at Outkick was much larger than the vast majority of people who would be credentialed in the press box.

It was very frustrating to me.

In those days many older gatekeepers of press credential access even wrote me and said if I wanted to be credentialed I should think more carefully about what I wrote on my site and Tweeted.

Their intent was clear — if I wanted to be credentialed I shouldn’t try and rock the boat.

Now I never changed what I wrote and technology certainly moved in my direction and I now don’t have any issues getting credentialed because I have a national radio show and I’m on a national TV show, but I definitely understand the challenge to get credentialed and why it matters to journalists battling every day to prove their legitimacy.

The biggest part of being in the press box isn’t watching or writing the game, it’s the access to decision makers and other writers or media members so you can, potentially, have private conversations with them that later lead to stories down the line. It’s the access, stupid.

When you’re in the press box it’s a powerful entity effectively saying you matter.

The same thing, I would imagine, is true of the White House beat, which is why I disagree with the Trump White House decision to block Acosta here.

I believe the Trump White House, and all presidents in all White Houses to come in the future, has an obligation to determine if a particular media organization is worthy of credentialing. TMZ, probably not, MSNBC, CNN, and Fox News, certainly so.

Whether you agree or disagree with CNN’s particular reporters or coverage of this particular president, I think most reasonable people would have to agree CNN deserves a right to White House media credentials.

Once you make that determination then I think the media organization deserves the right to pick the reporters it sends to do that job, not the White House.

Absent a clear abdication of that responsibility — I don’t think CNN could, for instance, name Stormy Daniels as their White House correspondent — I believe news organizations should be able to pick the journalists who cover the president and the White House shouldn’t get involved in that decision.

I think that’s true whether it’s Fox News covering Barack Obama or CNN covering Donald Trump.

I don’t like the precedent being set that if the White House dislikes a particular journalist they should be able to bar him or her from access to the White House. I believe if someone is doing a consistently poor job at his or her job a decision should be made by a news organization about whether that person should get to keep their job. (Many conversations like these happen behind closed doors on a regular basis). But the news organization has to make that decision, not the White House.

Now there’s a difference between the legal and the political here.

Legally, I don’t agree with the White House decision to try and bar Acosta, but politically I think it probably plays in Donald Trump’s favor to fight this battle. And this is where I think the media has been insanely dumb — Trump is playing them like a fiddle.

Journalists have very high opinions of themselves and their jobs. The public does not. So when Trump fights with journalists, he wins. His base likes the media being attacked. The media has no base.

We spend a ton of time talking and arguing about what Donald Trump’s approval ratings are, but the media’s approval ratings are in the gutter. They are absolute trash.

When he fights with the media, Trump wins and the media loses.

The fact that most members of the media haven’t yet realized Trump is playing them like a fiddle is insane to me.

But here we are, years and years after Trump announced he was running for president and nothing has changed.

Andy writes:

“I’ve watched the LeVeon Bell saga play out and have been amazed. I’m 36 and can’t remember an athlete or anyone else for that matter leaving $14.6 million dollars on the table for essentially 5 months of work. 

Colin Cowherd did a segment the other day showing that is actually more money that Tom Cook makes salary-wise as CEO of Apple and more that Ariana Grande will make this year. 

That doesn’t even include the $70 million 3-year deal the Steelers offered him over the summer. He’s a 26 year old RB with a lot of miles on those legs. I get that he wants to maximize his earnings but is he so egotistical and dumb that he thinks he’ll get more than $70 million at his age? After what just happened to Dez Bryant and teams seeing how much production they can get from 1st and 2nd year RBs, I can’t fathom a team paying near that much for an “old” RB that hasn’t played football for a year.  Is this possibly the worst/dumbest financial decision in the history of professional sports?”

Someone may well pay LeVeon Bell over $10 million a year starting in 2019, but that team is making a nonsensical decision in my opinion.

The self-evident truth is running backs aren’t worth big money in a modern day NFL. They just aren’t. James Conner has stepped in and, if anything, outperformed Bell this year by every statistical measure and he’s done it for nearly $14 million less per year. The Steelers haven’t missed Bell at all so far.

What’s more, the $14 million Bell left on the table will never be made up for the rest of his career.

So I think it was totally nonsensical by Bell not to play this year.

I certainly understand the desire to maximize your earnings and the fear that comes with injuries, but last year LeVeon Bell made $12 million and this year he was set to make $14 million. That’s $26 million guaranteed in two years. It’s hard to argue he would have been underpaid at all, particularly considering James Conner statistically outperformed him making just over $700k a year.

Let’s say that this offseason LeVeon gets $30 million guaranteed. That’s great for him, but the risk reward would have certainly mitigated in favor of him taking the $14 million and rolling the dice he’d have stayed healthy and signed a big deal in the offseason as well.

One of the challenges of an individual being a business — LeVeon Bell is LeVeon Bell, Inc. just like I’m Clay Travis, Inc. — is you have to be able to divorce yourself from your own feelings and try to treat yourself as a business. Think about it, a business that produces $14 million a year in profit, like LeVeon Bell, Inc. does, would be an insanely successful business. But many people don’t ever come to that realization.

Bell isn’t just a person, he’s a business.

I am effectively Outkick and so I run my life like I’m a business. I can’t get wrapped up in my feelings, I have to make smart, logical decisions like I’m running a business. If I think I’m being undervalued, I can’t get wrapped up in my feelings. I have to make the right decisions for my business.

I think LeVeon got wrapped all up in his feelings and I think if you see his social media posts that’s pretty self evident.

Honestly, this is where a good agent has to protect the player from himself.

Bell blew it. He was being fairly paid and he should have followed the Kirk Cousins example. Play under the franchise tag until you get out from underneath it and can sign the deal you want to sign. Instead he bungled this entire situation.

Hunter writes:

“After Colin Kaepernick was awarded the crazy money by Nike, it appears the kneeling issue has become a non-story. I get that ESPN is trying to clean up their act with their new CEO, but why do you believe the story has gone cold on all sports outlets? Did their pocket books really take a hit and they had an ah-ha moment or did the Nike contract give them the social justice they wanted?” 

Good question.

First, I think the NFL’s TV partners — ESPN, Fox, NBC, and CBS — made a concerted decision not to cover the protests this year because all of these TV networks realized the politicization of the NFL had been awful for ratings. It’s not a coincidence that all four of these networks suddenly stopped covering the protests and that ratings have gone back up this year after two years of declines.

Second, it’s very hard to argue Colin Kaepernick has been treated unfairly based on his political opinions when he’s receiving millions of dollars more from Nike based on his political opinions than he would be receiving to play football in the NFL.

It’s hard to make this argument with a straight face: “Wow, this guy’s such a rebel that a $100 billion dollar company is willing to give him millions of dollars to share those opinions far and wide!”

I mean think about this, Colin Kaepernick became the first athlete in American history to be paid millions of dollars for his political opinions. Not because of his excellence on the field or court, not because he’s achieved something tremendous in athletics, but entirely because of his political beliefs. (That’s even though he’s never voted in an election and his political beliefs are nonsensical).

How can you possibly argue society is turning its back on you when you’ve been better compensated for your political beliefs than any athlete in the history of our country? I think the Nike money, honestly, made Kaepernick much less of a victim, even for his most ardent supporters.

Third, where is this big Colin Kaepernick advertising campaign that we heard so much about? I haven’t seen it. I think Nike was surprised by the negative response to the Kaepernick signing and effectively shelved their big campaign in most of the country.

Now maybe I’m just missing it, but it seems to me that it has been sidelined and isn’t out there inflaming tensions very much in the country.

Fourth, I think Trump takes his cue on how to respond to controversies based, to a large degree, on how the media covers those controversies as opposed to the controversies themselves. When the media stopped covering the protest the political oxygen of the issue vanished and the president hasn’t seen value in it.

Chase writes:

“Who has the best chance to beat Alabama in the College Football Playoff?”

I’d rank the playoff contending teams in this order when it comes to their chances of beating Alabama: 1. Clemson 2. Georgia 3. Michigan 4. Ohio State 5. Notre Dame 6. Oklahoma 7. West Virginia

Every football game is a matter of probability.

Since Alabama will only play one game against each of these teams, anything could happen. I think the odds of any of these teams beating the Tide four of seven games would be zero. But in a one game setting, any of them could pull off the upset.

It’s unlikely anyone beats the Tide, which is why I think Alabama will finish 15-0, but it’s certainly possible, which is why we’ll all watch the games, that one of the above teams could get fortunate and pull off the upset.

Hope all of you have fantastic weekends.

We’ll be live on Lock It In with weekend gambling picks at 5 eastern this afternoon.


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