S1: The following podcast includes explicit language, including, well, you’ll just have to wait and see.
S2: Hi, I’m Josh Levine, Slate’s national editor, and this is Hang Up and listen for the week of September 21st, 2020. On this week’s show, we’ll talk about the Lakers buzzer beating win against the Nuggets, the Seahawks last second stop against the Patriots and the abstract concept of whether sports are back. We’ll also discuss the return of Big Ten football, reversing an earlier pledge to cancel the fall season. And finally, Slate’s Jim Newell will be with us to discuss the conquering weirdo of pro golf 2020 U.S. Open champion Bryson DeChambeau.
S3: I’m the author of The Queen, host of Slow Burn Season four. I’m in Washington, D.C., also in Washington, D.C., author of the book Word Freak in a few seconds of Panic, Sir. Stefan Fatsis, congrats on getting knighted by me.
S1: Thank you, Stefan. I think it was a long time coming.
S3: It was, yeah. What’s going to be your first official act to abandon the monarchy?
S1: Move to Vancouver?
S4: Wow. It’s a real lesson for us all. Abdicate, abdicate.
S1: That was the word I was looking for. I’m abdicating my throne for the podcast.
S3: You live with us from Palo Alto, Slate staff writer, host of Slow Burn Season three, Lord Joel Anderson. How do you feel about the title that I’ve given you, Joel?
S5: I feel pretty good. I’ve always thought of myself as a Lord. I think Lord is better than sir. They give those answers out to like anybody. Do you have to earn a lord? Tired, got to earn you got to earn your Lord. Yeah. I think nobody who’s called Lord gets, you know, just gets it. You have to.
S3: That’s certainly a title that you have to iron out of the Big Ten as the Lords Division and the Legends Division. I think, Joel, don’t forget that we’re doing this live slow burn thing on Tuesday.
S6: Oh, God, I did forget. OK, thanks for reminding me.
S3: It’s Tuesday, September twenty second. That is this Tuesday. If you’re listening to this this week, it’s the first ever conversation between all four LeBron hosts, me and Joel and Leon NEFA and Noreen Malone is hosting the upcoming Season five. It’s at eight p.m. Eastern on Tuesday and you can find out how to watch at Slate Dotcom Slash live.
S6: It’s literally the first time I’ve never talked to Lenoy Norene before, so.
S3: Sunday night, NBA’s Orlando bubble, a quote unquote, home game for the Los Angeles Lakers, Lakers are down by one Nuggets one or three, Lakers, one or two, two point one seconds to go.
S7: TNT’s Bryant Anderson on the call to give Yokich trying to disrupt Rondo He puts it in Here’s Davis for Three in the wind Oh it’s gone Anthony Davis has won It’s.
S3: Because little more than an hour later, Seattle Seahawks, thirty five Patriots, thirty three seconds to go, pats at the Seattle one yard line, little Super Bowl reversal. Cam Newton awaiting the snap game. He’s going to take it himself and he doesn’t get. And the Seahawks are going to win the game. Going to give Al Michaels like a half Brian Anderson there in terms of energy and enthusiasm, because you see it, I the man the man has seen it all. He’s he’s hard to impress, but four really good teams, two games came down to the final play, one win for the offense, one for the defense. When we were waiting for sports to come back. This is what we were waiting for, these kinds of games. But it’s tough not to think it was tough for me not to think about what was missing. When I was watching those games on Sunday, the Seahawks won in their home stadium known as one of the loudest in the NFL. In front of no home fans, the Lakers won a notional home game in which the home court amenities mostly consisted of digitally superimposed logos on the court. So, Joel, when you see those plays and hear those highlights, are you thinking about more what’s there and what we saw than what we heard or what isn’t there?
S6: So it’s to the credit of those sports leagues that I’m thinking, what the hell was Mason Plumlee doing and what the hell was Josh McDaniels doing? To clarify Mason Plumlee lost Anthony Davis on that inbounds play that freedom up for that open three pointer and Josh Alexandrine involved.
S5: I mean he ran right into the back of LeBron like he like he stopped there and it was confusing. Somebody should get him to ask him what actually happened there and I mean Josh McDaniels, whatever man he ran a fullback dive with Cam. So whatever. But that’s the point. I have to admit, the games have been really good. And in many ways, I’ve just grown accustomed to these fabulous games. And I don’t know, maybe that’s just because we’ve been acculturated to the idea of watching games without very many fans in the background for years. You know, like most games that we watch are not these big standing room only affairs around the country. The games that very often, you know, three quarters full, half full sometimes. And so, you know, we’ve adapted to the idea that these games are not going to have fans. I have a particular way of watching the NFL anyway. I mean, I watch the red zone and then tune in if the game is interesting late. And so, you know, this is not been that disturbing for me. And I assume it probably is the same for a lot of other people. Is that is that been true for you to stuff?
S1: Yeah, I, of course, feels weird and I tend to sort of try to get lost in the moment, like at that end of that game. And I’m still, though, conscious of the surroundings and not in a terrible way either. I’m still like fixated every time the NBA cuts to that cool floor level shot with the little roadrunner camera tracking the sideline. I love that. And that’s what I start thinking about. And you mentioned the home court advantage, Josh, every time they start playing defense, when the home team is on defense, I find that amusing and entertaining. So I think that I’m getting to that point where my brain is getting tricked slightly, at least with the NBA into feeling like this is OK. This is kind of normal. Football still seems really weird to me because of the the emptiness of the stadiums and the the few games where they’ve allowed fans and stupidly or probably stupidly, that just looks really, you know, weird having a sixth or a tenth of the the capacity in the stadium. So that just reminds me that it’s weird. I don’t know whether I want to be reminded that this is all weird and we shouldn’t be doing it necessarily or whether that’s OK.
S3: The NBA stuff. You know, there is a moment in that Lakers Nuggets game. I hadn’t thought about this before, but they mentioned when Alex Caruso was trying to save a ball on the sideline and just like kind of went way off the court and leaped and tried to throw it in, that that wouldn’t have been possible in an arena with courtside seats. And, you know, the rail cam, that wouldn’t be possible, an arena with courtside seats. And so the absence of fans isn’t all bad from a viewing perspective or even from like an uncaught play perspective. I mean, that’s like a pretty narrow circumstance, but like there definitely would have been more of a risk of injury or of beer spilling in the front row if someone’s laptop might have gotten broken from the media, all of these things. But I guess I was just more specifically wondering, because we had asked Troy Daniels about this when we had him on in the early days of NBA baseball because he had made his on the Nuggets. He had made a game winning shot in the playoffs when he was on the Rockets. And just like, what would it feel like to have one of these indelible moments we saw with Luka Donchak earlier in the playoffs when he made that that buzzer beater. We saw it here with Anthony Davis and Brian Anderson. The announcer is like trying to bring the level of energy that we expect, but there’s just that. Kind of like Buzz or the fake crowd noise, and you heard it in the Seahawks clip as well, and I think it sounds the fake guest in those moments when you would see, like when Kawhi made that shot in the playoffs last year, the bouncing shot where they have the cam, the camera like the top of the arena, and you see everybody in the stands like stand up and leap up at the same time like it feels them. You can’t do like a CGI artificial crowd noise that sounds natural in one of these moments. And so you almost kind of wish that they didn’t have any at all rather than reminding you of the unreality of it.
S6: So when the moment when Anthony Davis hit that three last night, if you watch games, the way that I watch them with, like my computer open looking at Twitter and then eyes darting back and forth between the laptop and TV screen, it doesn’t seem quite is the fan noise and the fan reaction shot isn’t quite as noticeable to me because I’m looking at people on Twitter go, wow, oh, eight, you know, all that stuff.
S3: But I was watching on DVR, so I had I had stripped out all of that because I didn’t want to know what had happened in the game. So I wasn’t oh, I had like, you know, had the phone, the phone off, the computer off. And so I’m totally relying on the TV to be my companion for the game, like I was watching with no one either in person or virtually.
S6: Yeah. See, that definitely could I could totally see how that would affect the viewing experience. But, you know, we talked about this several times about the absence of home court advantage. And I think to me it most comes up when you’re building the tension for the games, like when the state when they’re talking about the stakes and, you know, getting ready to start the game, it’s like, all right. You know, home court switches to Denver and Denver is down to how are they going to get back into the series as they go do whatever the hell their home arena is. And like here, that sort of stuff. When you grow up hearing, you know, we’re live from the forum in Inglewood, you know, that sort of stuff is what makes playoff games, playoff games to me. And we don’t have any of that buildup. It’s just the game, for better or worse, even at this point in the playoffs, we’re still trying to figure out, like how we feel about it and how much of it’s affected us. But I think for the most part, it’s to the credit of the NBA and the players that the games have mostly taken center stage so far.
S3: Stefen in the conference semis home team went five and nineteen in the NBA and in the Raptors Celtics series, the quote unquote home team lost every game, which had never happened before in an NBA playoff series.
S4: Yeah, so it turns out that the defense sounds are not really a team. I always thought they were, but yeah, it’s good, good, good to have your errors corrected.
S1: I think in baseball it’s been about what it normally is in terms of home field advantage. And I don’t think home field advantage is as strong in baseball. It’s like fifty five or fifty six percent or something like that. NFL small sample size. So far I haven’t looked at the numbers.
S3: Josh, have you, Stefan and the NBA conference semifinals home teams went five and nineteen, which is a winning percentage of twenty one percent.
S8: And in the Raptors Celtic series the quote unquote home team lost every game which had never happened before in the NBA playoffs.
S1: Well, we probably need our friend Jon Wertheim, who had a chapter about this in a book that he wrote a few years ago to talk about the reality of home field advantage or home court advantage. And I think what we’re seeing is that in big stadiums, things are playing out the way they normally do in baseball. I think it’s about the same 55 or 56 percent somewhere around there. In terms of the home team’s winning percentage in football, it sounds like the first couple of weeks have been also on level in terms of home team.
S8: I mean, very, very early days. It’s eighteen and thirteen home teams are, which is fifty eight percent, which is close to historical norms. But we don’t know like that doesn’t take into account the quality of the the match up is expected to win, but it’s not there’s nothing like crazy going on clearly. Right.
S1: But in basketball it is crazy. Which would indicate again small sample size that home court does matter a lot in a tight, crowded arena. And I haven’t looked at the numbers for hockey, but I imagine that they’re probably also sort of tend to level things out or flip things and have the home ice advantage matter less than it normally would. But what I really enjoyed is just watching the players play and care during the forty eight minutes that they’re on the court, like that explosion of of of excitement after I’d hit the three was no different than it would have been in an arena. And in some ways it allowed us to focus more on them and their reactions than we would have if a producer was cutting between fans and the court. And you know some. You know some. And going crazy in the stands, and I like that part of it, I think you know that we’re distilling this back to what matters for the athletes. And while it’s we’ve talked about how this is not easy for them in all of these down hours in the bubble, when they’re on the court, they seem to be caring and watching that care has been really fun for me.
S9: I mean, the only fans or at least only fans we’re seeing in these NBA playoff games, Joel, are the players on the bench. So J.R. Smith is like playing the role of, like Twelfth Man and surrogate fan.
S1: Who is the guy that got run over, though, after the the scrum? Did you notice that followed the Anthony Davis chest, bumped into him and knocked him down for all, tried to call into the scrum after he got knocked down an anonymous deleted Laker.
S5: Right. Wasn’t a player. You know, I agree, man. I think that it has been sort of joyful to watch them play, but and to be a Debbie Downer here for just a second, we haven’t heard anything about the stuff that led them to go on strike a couple of weeks ago. Like since then. Right. Like that stuff is all in the rearview. And that was always the concern from from players like Kyrie or whatever, that once these games got started, the people would stop talking about these important social and racial justice issues and not talking about voting. There are. Yeah, which is not what I always like to remind you, that that is not quite social and racial justice. It’s an element of it. But what this all is about was about racialized police abuse. That’s how it started. We haven’t heard anything about that. But I mean, that’s neither here nor there. We’re not talking about it. We’re talking about the games now, which is fine. The games have been great. And that’s I mean, you know, this is probably gone about as well for the NBA is they could have expected. And also, I mean, they get the L.A. Lakers, they get LeBron, they get the Lakers going towards the final. Like that is ideal. And I also don’t have to deal with the Milwaukee Bucks and that small market. Right. Like, that’s a you know, they don’t have to worry about them mucking things up.
S8: I guess the question is, you mentioned the messages are less present now, but actually the message, the Black Lives Matter message is still very prominent. It’s on the court. The messages on the jerseys are still there. And I but I still think you’re right. And so I guess the question is, has that actually become something that we just get used to and we see as part of the furniture of these games? And if we want this message to resonate more or to spark something new, that means the messages on the jerseys need to be different around on the court, need to be different because it’s it’s all just part of the you know, what we’ve come to expect at this point? Well, we’ve become acculturated to.
S1: Well, that’s an interesting question. I think looking forward, look, the NBA is going to restart in a couple of months. Are these messages going to still be on the court? Are they going to switch this up? Is this going to become a part of the fabric of sports going forward? Or I think perilously, will we look at this as a window where sports decided to join a cultural conversation and then when it’s convenient to exit it, we’re not in these exigent circumstances anymore. We’re out of these bubbles. Fans are back in the stands that we’re going to move on and go back to being a commercial based entity.
S8: I guess my point was that I don’t exercise very much. But isn’t it like a core tenet of exercising that you want to, like, switch things up so your body doesn’t get used to like doing the same exercises over and over again? So even if if it is the same message, don’t you want to kind of deliver it in a different way using a different medium?
S10: Even different visuals are designed just to get people to notice again.
S6: Yeah, I mean, it’s tough, right? Because you do want it to become sort of part of the landscape that people agree that Black Lives Matter is a viable political force in our country and that, you know, it’s something to be reckoned with. Right. But yeah, I mean, at this point, who’s to say like what’s the best the next best way to grab people’s attention? But, you know, again, I’m torn on that anyway, because I’m like, I don’t know if basketball player should have to do that. I don’t know if that that should be the work of the NBA. And we’re we’re we’re living through new, fresh horrors every day in this country. Like there’s all sorts of like, you know, turmoil and potential turmoil on the horizon. So it could be that our attention diverted because of that stuff, too, in basketball for the people that just want to stick to sports like it is providing us some sort of solace and in a really difficult time. But, yeah, I don’t know what I don’t know what the next best thing to do is and stuff. I mean, that’s if the season starts in a couple of months after this. I mean, I imagine they’ll have to come back to the bubble, right. Like with this, nothing is going to change in terms of, you know, where we’re going to be in terms of dealing with this pandemic in a couple of months. So, yeah, I mean, I guess if they.
S1: Going to do something different, it’s just going to have to be different in that bubble, we didn’t even talk about whether Mason Plumlee screwed up on that screen or whether he screwed up. What’s going on there and whether Cam Newton screwed up or that was just a bad play call. He screwed us in the new defector sort of analyzing those plays in Micra, in in Micra, which was what I was thinking about after those those games. Do you think he screwed up entirely? Yeah. What did they say about that? I play call for Cam then the play call for Cam that Seattle read it and and did a good job stopping it basically and that there was a failure on the on the right side of the line and Cam was left with no options. And I think Cam said afterward that yeah, he probably should have bounced to the outside and tried to score that way. It looks terrible but sports. Sports. Right. And same with Plomley. I mean, there’s there’s probably some you know, Djokic said afterward, a little bit miscommunication, which is putting it mildly. But there’s probably some world in which Mason Plumlee rightly thought that the correct thing to do was to protect against LeBron peeling off and going toward the basket. But it sure didn’t look like it after watching it six times.
S3: While Rondo said because Rondo had asked into the game to throw the inbounds pass, which ended up being the right move for the Lakers.
S8: But he said first flick was to go to Caldwell Pope on the back. That wasn’t open. Next look was to look to Danny Green on the back. That wasn’t open to then I look to LeBron and he wasn’t moving and then I together. So I was like, Wait, wait, wait. Because if Davis misses that shot, then the story of the game is LeBron had it absolutely putrid, fourth quarter, fourth quarter and everything down the stretch. And that’s like the the power and the beauty of having an amazing teammate like that is that it can erase the mistakes that are inevitable in a high level game like that one. But like you focus on the Mason Plumlee aspect, like LeBron, LeBron behavior on that last play was slightly bizarre as well.
S5: I don’t know man. I just watch. Mason Plumlee is keeping up with Anthony Davis. Anthony Davis curls behind the line Mason Plumlee stops at Bron who is not moving like I mean I guess maybe he was surprised by what LeBron did but I just I don’t know classic. The classic Don’t Move play. I guess they only had Mason Plumlee out there for his athleticism, not necessarily his headiness.
S8: Yeah. Fair play.
S5: We’re now a few days away from the real start of college football when the SEC finally returns to action over the weekend, the SCC, which hasn’t yet played a game and won’t play against any nonconference opponents this fall, has six of the nation’s top 10 ranked teams, according to the most recent AP poll, and I’m inclined to believe it in the SEC’s absence. College football has mostly slog through its first couple of weeks in the pandemic. There’s been a lot of boring mismatches, more Texas state in Austin Peay football than I’ve ever wanted to see on TV and a handful of games postponed because of campus outbreaks. And seeing all of that mess, the Big Ten has decided it wants back in the game. Last week, the conference reversed course and announced that it would start its college football season, the weekend of October 24th. That decision comes about a month after the league voted to indefinitely postpone its season. And it appears the PAC 12 wants to and is close to reconsidering its earlier decision to delay the season until the spring. So, Josh, are you surprised that the Big Ten and maybe the PAC 12 are changing their minds about playing this fall?
S3: I actually am surprised, but I think it’s probably more a failure of imagination on my part to think about how this was going to play out. Because if we look back on when the decision was made, the Big Ten and PAC 12 clearly thought they were being leaders and legends and that other commentators were going to follow them. Right. And then when that didn’t happen, then you had a couple of cascading effect there. You had players and fans saying this is unfair, we deserve to play. If Notre Dame is playing, if everybody else is playing, then why can’t we play to you had pressure on the schools that were missing all of this revenue and everybody else is getting it. And again, there’s the sense of unfairness and lack of equilibrium there.
S8: But the fact that the statements about why they weren’t going to play were so focused on medical reasons and that they were supposedly led by health and safety officials who were focused on covid related heart issues and the potential consequences there.
S10: I think it was partly sincere health related concern. Partly, it seemed to me like a potential concern about liabilities if there are catastrophic health consequences from from coming back to play. And so because of that, it just seemed like a hard thing to walk back from. If you’re saying we are incredibly concerned about health and safety and then we’re still in a pandemic, and then you say, actually, never mind, we’re going to play anyway. And the argument as articulated very well by our colleague Ben Mathis in Slate for this not being a totally bankrupt and indefensible decision is that the thing that’s changed is the availability of rapid testing. And they have these protocols in place where all the players are going to get Rapide tested before every game in practice, and that if there’s a positive, then they’ll take a PCR test. And if there’s a positive, they’ll sit out for three weeks. And there are all of these contingencies in place. And what Ben says is like, if you’re going to play college football, then this is the plan and the protocol that you would want to have. Like this is the way to do it safely. But I think, Stefan, I’d imagine that there are a bunch of holes to be poked here. But I just wanted to lay out that argument and say that the thing that has changed here and the reason that this if you wanted to make this decision, the thing that you can lean on and explain and with is the availability of these tests.
S1: Yeah, that’s absolutely fair, Josh. And that is the right way for the Big Ten to justify returning to play. But it does elide a lot of related issues, including the long term unknown consequences of this this illness, including the obvious contradiction or hypocrisy that you have campuses that are experiencing gigantic outbreaks among students, including Wisconsin of the Big Ten, which has has dormitories that are currently locked down where kids literally can’t leave because there have been a cluster of positive cases. So you’re totally free to justify this by saying we’re taking every precaution to protect the safety of the players and staff of these teams. But, you know, lift the rug and there’s a whole lot of dust under there about what interests are you supposed to be serving in college with? What are these university presidents supposed to be doing to protect their their their campuses? That’s the bubble that they should be thinking about. And I think you can make an equally forceful moral argument that playing at all runs counter to the goals of American universities.
S5: I mean, schools are. Having trouble just holding class right now, like there’s difficulty and having class and keeping people safe in the course of this pandemic right now, and now you’re saying, OK, in the middle of all this, we haven’t really seen anything change in terms of like the material conditions in our country.
S6: Like, you know, people are sort of abiding by protocols and social distancing and some people sort of aren’t. And people, you know, still the death rates and infection rates are slowing, but there’s still like a problem. Like we’re still like things are still dangerous. And so and so they’re they looked at all of that and said, oh, yeah, we want in on that. Like, that’s fine. Like, let’s do it. And to your point stuff and. Yeah, like what do they know about myocarditis now that makes them less concerned about it today, you know what I mean? Like that was a part of their reasoning for not having football as recently as about 40 days ago. And now they’re saying, oh, we’re just going to like cataloguer, we’re going to keep track of all the people that may have some sort of symptoms or show some sort of signs of myocarditis like, well, what does that doesn’t do any players any good 15 years from now. Right. Like if there are any real long term health effects. I also find it really interesting that, you know, we’re just coming off the NFL weekend where there were like a seemingly high number of injuries.
S5: And people are theorizing that we’re seeing all these injuries because of the lack of preparation time. I’ve not heard anybody say that about college football. And I don’t know why people have are not concerned about the potential for players getting hurt or there being an injury risk. And I tend to think it’s because nobody tends to specifically care about the players in college football. They care about the games and they care about the schools. But the players are always take a backseat to the larger interest in college football. And like that’s the way through which I view the Big Ten and potentially the Pequots decisions to retire because, of course, players want to play. Of course they want to get back out there. But it’s on these leagues. It’s on these administrators to figure out safe circumstances to do that. And I’m just not convinced that anybody anywhere in this country, with the exception of the sports leagues that are in bubbles, have figured it out in such a way that would make me feel comfortable.
S1: I mean, Josh, I think there’s a cynical point to be made here, too, in terms of what motivated the Big Ten to return. Michael McCann did a piece for the new website that he’s involved in sport to go about the business of sports. And there were a couple of lawsuits filed here. And McCann postulated that those lawsuits probably didn’t force the Big Ten’s hand, but it sure as hell makes their life easier to return to play. They are going to avoid a lot of public scrutiny about communications and decision making that could have made the league look really bad here. So there are a lot of reasons why the Big Ten decided to do this. And I don’t think it’s likely that the only ones were that, oh, suddenly it looks like, you know, we can manage this health crisis thing and let them play at the same time we can get more tests. And that’s a good thing.
S3: I don’t really buy that that idea that from from McCann that they were doing this to try to avoid litigation because, you know, he doesn’t say that they did.
S1: He’s saying that it certainly makes it easier, you know. Well, it’s are not like it certainly does.
S3: I don’t think these these universities are dumb enough to think that they’re out there. They’re dodging. Well, they must know that they’re courting potential litigation by coming back to play like this is not a get out of litigation free card coming coming back after you’ve made all of these pronouncements about how unsafe it was. And then you’re basically now opening yourself up to both criticism and in public and also potential lawsuits. If, you know, if if someone gets gets sick or hurt or hurt. So, you know, we’re going to see in discovery. All right. What’s all the evidence you had to contradict the evidence that you said you had before. But let’s see it all and then we’ll we’ll let a court decide. Yeah.
S1: So aren’t they to some degree just crossing their fingers on everything?
S3: Yeah, but I think so. Stefan, there’s something that you said and in the beginning of the segment about how playing now doesn’t serve the interests of these university, the educational purpose or the stated purpose that the fundamental issue there we have to back up one on one level is that football doesn’t serve the interests of these institutes of higher education. And I think I don’t want to just say that this is useful because I know that there are people whose whose lives are going to be upended by it, by this decision making. But it is instructive to see all of the stuff that we that we suspected and that we knew was underpinning these these sports. You know, the emphasis on revenue generation, the hypocrisy is around players not being able to make money. Well. While coaches are more millionaires than stuff has just become so much more stark and obvious, I think, to the world, just when you see what measures are being taken to get these tests to football players, while the grad students who are teaching and Michigan and risking exposure are not being given, the same measures aren’t being taken to ensure their safety. And there’s just no way to put any kind of pleasant gloss around that. It’s just because the football players make money for the school. Like I don’t see any other argument that anyone who has a brain could possibly endorse. And so I guess it’s nice that that’s all kind of out in the open now. And the other thing that I would raise is, you know, the Big Ten schools are never going to never going to say this because how could they? But the thing that’s really, I think, hard to get behind here is that in order for this to work, you need coaches and athletic departments to comply with these rules. And this is the conference that until very recently, D.J. Durkin was the head coach at and Maryland was reinstated, but then fired after findings that there was a toxic culture at that school, a culture that led, you know, seemingly directly to the death of a player, Jordan McNair, who was having heat related issues that at practice there have been issues like this at other schools and the Big Ten as well, Iowa, etc. and so forth. And so why are we to believe that with these stringent protocols where if there’s a positive test, it’s going to put these schools at an extreme competitive disadvantage if they comply? What is there in the background of these institutions and these coaches to believe that they’re going to adhere to these protocols?
S5: Yeah, and I mean, you know, I was actually thinking about this as I looked at the Big Ten schedule. You know, to that point, we’re seeing the hypocrisy of of all of this sort of expose and laid bare over the last few weeks. And I was looking at the Big Ten schedule and I was like, man, when are these kids going to be able to go to class and and do their finals? You know what I mean? Because, like, the season ends, like right before the holidays under these circumstances, and it goes right through Thanksgiving, which is, you know, normal, but like right into when athletes would theoretically be studying for their finals. And I was like, oh, that’s right. None of this has anything to do with school. It’s all about football.
S1: You could argue, though, Joel, that remote learning makes it easier to be an athlete. They don’t have to go anywhere. They can stay in their in their room. They could actually bubble them and they can still go to college. Don’t you mean stay in the facility, in their pod, in the locker room that has beds already. Right. And back to your point, Josh, can you’re your coach at on my. Exactly. Your coach. Coach Kocho. I serve at his pleasure, basically. Yeah. He’s sort of moving forward with very little understanding about what’s going on. And he understands, oh, you know, this is. Yeah, he knows. I think I think that hopefully they won’t catch it again and hopefully they’re not out for games.
S3: No. He said that all of the team had covid and that it’s a good thing. It’s a good thing because that means they won’t get it again. But the herd immunity theory.
S10: Right, that seems like a reasonable I don’t I don’t think it’s like a reasonable medical understanding, but it’s a reasonable understanding of the only thing that he is actually qualified to opine on, which is competitive football on field advantage.
S8: And that’s the only thing that these that we should be listening to these guys about, like we should be listening to them when they talk about how they are going to deal with this as a competitive issue.
S1: And the fact that they are thinking about it as a competitive issue tells you everything that you need to know about how this is going to play out. Right. So, you know, Orgeron basically also admit it again, no surprise that he doesn’t pay attention to the news and he just does what he’s told. There’s a protocol and I’m going to follow it. And, you know, yeah, you’re right. And that’s an incredibly cynical way to think about all of this, about sports, about football coaches. And it’s the absolute right one. And that’s how we should be processing this. And if to go back to another point you made earlier and that Ben Mathis, Lily makes in his piece, that if this leads to an acknowledgement of what this is all really about and maybe it leads to some follow up on the player rights protest movement that emerged earlier in the summer, then that’s a good thing. Will it? I don’t know. Joel, do you think it will?
S5: I mean, absolutely not. I mean, we’ve seen and much more important in larger institutions, the hypocrisy is not the public acknowledgement of hypocrisy will not.
S6: Stop necessarily anybody from being a hypocrite, right, so I can’t imagine that now that we know, OK, they don’t necessarily care about the player’s health in the way that they say that they do. This is about money. This is fundamentally about generating millions of dollars of revenue for these schools that now that’s all out in the open, that they’re going to be like, you know what, let’s reopen this and see how we can bring the players in and see about if we can get them paid, since now that we know that this is mostly a business transaction. Right. I just don’t see that happening. In fact, I think that I’m more concerned for the players now because now the exportations all out there for us to see and the games are still going to go on, you know what I mean? Like that. That’s the really worrisome part to me that we know there is.
S3: There is if not now when sort of aspect to this.
S1: Yeah. So there’s really there’s no evidence that this is going to go well. And we had a head coach, Mike Norvelle of Florida State, test positive. And, you know, we have we’ve had at least I don’t know what the latest count is, but the last I saw it was 16 games that were canceled in the first three weeks. And that’s before the Big Ten and the SCC and the PAC 12 and other stuff. And Fox lost its only scheduled game just this past weekend because of a post poll. Yeah, yeah. I mean, some teams haven’t had enough players on their roster to play a game. So there’s really no evidence that this is going to go well so far.
S3: But actually, isn’t the fact that the games are getting postponed a sign of success in some way, like it would be worse if the games were still going on under these circumstances? Like, so I’m not. I’m not. Yeah, no. Well, that just doesn’t strike me as the as the we can come up with lots of reasons to argue that this isn’t working, but to say they’re postponing or canceling games because players are testing positive, that doesn’t seem like a bad thing.
S5: It’s showing that the protocols that they said that they had don’t work. Right. Like I mean, at a minimum, we know that they’re supposed to be on campus. Like one of the arguments for coming back to playing was, well, they’ll be safer on campus than they are anywhere else because we’ll have them in this protocol or whatever. And we see that. That’s all bullshit. Right?
S4: Right. All right. We’re in agreement. Great place to end.
S9: And this week’s bonus segment for Slate plus members, this is a big weekend for another great thing, NFL injuries.
S3: And there’s been speculation, as I just mentioned, Bedroll, about whether that’s because of the unusual circumstances of the season. We’ll talk about that. We’ll talk about just our general feelings about injuries and football.
S1: Until last year, Bryson DeChambeau was mostly known as the quirky and annoying golfer who studied physics, played slow, talk too much, putted weird and signed his autograph backwards with his non dominant hand. Now he’s the guy who bulked up to an on and off like two hundred and forty pounds of rippling humanity. So it was amusing, if not intentional, when as the Shamba walked up the 18th fairway to complete a six stroke win in the U.S. Open on Sunday, NBC analyst Paul Azinger said this is validation on steroids for Bryce. And Azinger later walked back his comment in a text to a reporter. If anyone was thinking, I was implying that Bryson was on steroids. They completely misinterpreted that. He took a lot of shit and validated everything he’s done. If that needs cleaning up, then the world has gone to hell. Slate’s Jim Newell covers a part of the world that actually has gone to hell, Congress and politics. He also watches a lot of and occasionally writes about golf. Hi, Jim. Hi. Well, it turns out that when you spend quarantine adding 40 pounds of muscle, people will be suspicious. The shambo seems like the kind of guy that people roll their eyes about a lot. But he’s also single minded and weird enough that he doesn’t seem to care anyone. The U.S. Open. This all seems good for golf, I think.
S11: I think if you can’t have a dominating player to root for with Tiger and Phil in decline or, you know, Rory kind of treading water, Jordan Spieth kind of backsliding, then it doesn’t hurt to have a villain. And that’s kind of what Bryson has become to a lot of people. He can be grating personally. He got mad at the press a couple of times this summer when they didn’t show him at his at his most positive light. And he said this, you know, could you show us when it’s better for our brand? He tried to get a generous ruling earlier this this summer by pretending that he was in danger from fire ants and that he needed to move his ball. So there’s a lot of things that he’s kind of built some bad will for over time. I think his game, even though it’s incredible right now, in the long run, I do not think his game is good for golf. It’s not that he’s done anything illegal. In fact, it’s really impressive of what he’s done, the way he’s tried to take advantage of technology to just get 20 yards on the rest of the field. But I don’t think it’s great for golf in the long run that now the one thing that really matters the most is speed. And just building up as much as you can have to have as much speed as you can possibly have. So then there’s not really much artistry left in the game, because I think really, when you have people like Tiger, Phil and Brad, they have plenty of power, too, or Jordan Spieth or going back a little more savvy by a staros, it’s really the artistry in the shot making that I think really makes people love some of these people the most. And here it’s just bludgeoning the ball.
S3: Sounds like what somebody who’s not very muscular would say.
S11: Well, I think that’s absolutely true, being so scrawny. I’m obviously just jealous. And that’s why I’m saying what I’m saying.
S3: You know who the most popular player of some of the last decade, the modern era of golf has? John Daly Yeah, people like people like bludgeoning them.
S11: I think people like John Daly because he was also a really fun person and really fat, I think. Yeah, it was fat, too. People relate to him being fat, so that helped him smoke cigarettes and drink on the golf course, which was a sign of serious health problems. You know, but but you know who can’t. What I mean, what else is there to relate to in serious health problems?
S3: So so so, Joel, I think we can all just really bask in this story of a man who gained fifty pounds during quarantine and is living his best life now and has used that to, you know, bring him bring himself tremendous glory.
S5: Yeah. I mean, I you know, I guess what was sort of interesting to me and reading about this was that it reminded me of the last dance when Michael Jordan said after one of those early series against the Pistons, he was like, well, I decided that maybe I needed to lift weights. And that’s kind of what is shocking to me here, Jim, that, you know, they talk about his workout routine and analytical approach to the game. And I’m like, wait a minute, I’m a professional golfer. It’s not training like other professional athletes, like just not taking any of that, you know what I mean? Because it would seem to me with so much money at stake, they’d all be availing themselves of all these resources, working out dietitians, you know, analysis of their game, like, ah, why aren’t the rest of them working out, enlisting other people to help them? I don’t understand.
S11: I mean, I think a lot of them are working out, but it’s more about, I mean, building some strength and toning. But a lot of players, when they’ve tried to really just put on masks, you know, like 30, 40 pounds, it hasn’t really worked. And they’ve had health problems like Rory a few years ago, really put on a lot of masks. And it it he had several injuries afterwards. And that’s why when Bryson did this, there was some thinking like, oh, players have tried this before. It’s not really going to work. He’s going to lose his touch, too, he’s going to have more injuries. I mean, that could still happen down the line. But he’s really the first person who’s gone this path of let me become, you know, a linebacker and see, you know, and I’ll just bludgeoned to death and then I can get past everyone and not really face the negative consequences of that so far. So, I mean, that’s still an open question. I mean, one of his body will break down just because of all the work he has to do to keep this weight on. I mean, also the fact that he’s eating like five eggs and protein shakes, like ten pieces of bacon every morning, like, you know, that doesn’t really sound like a sustainable plan. But I mean, if he can continue doing this for a few more years and is primed and I mean, that’s the way everyone’s going be taught going forward and you’re just going to have it getting longer and longer.
S1: Well, this completely reminds me of baseball pre steroids pre Waite’s when the conventional wisdom was, oh, it’ll restrict your your range of motion if you have muscles and it’ll actually slow down your swing and it’s a bad thing. And then, you know, in tandem, baseball players in the 1980s discovered that you could ingest illegal substances and lift tons of weight and it will make the ball go farther. And now it’s refined to the point where someone like Bryce in the Shimbo can go out and put on 40 pounds and will assume that he’s not doing anything illegal. He says he’s not his trainer. Well, there’s no reason to assume that. But go ahead for the sake of argument, because they are tested, right? I mean, but. Right, exactly. There’s no reason to assume anything.
S3: Remember that that Sports Illustrated story where Ken Caminiti won the MVP and he credited it to eating Snickers bars so that the thing that doesn’t make sense to me is like the one thing that we know about DeChambeau is that he will do anything to win. Right. They kill, defy any kind of convention in the game. If he thinks that it gives him some kind of advantage. And like all the stuff about, oh, we’ve been preparing his body for two years to undergo this transformation, that I mean, we have no evidence that he’s on PEDs, but he seems it seems like he wouldn’t decline to do anything that he thinks would help him win.
S11: No, I mean, he wouldn’t. I guess he’s always I mean, he’s had this history for people who literally never heard of him before, of just trying to devise new ways of doing things that people think are crazy at first, like when he was in college, he usually golf clubs the higher the club. So if you go up from like four to five to six or seven irons, the clubs get a little shorter just so you have a little more control. Bryson invented this idea of having every club be single length and he still uses that. And people thought that was bizarre, but it still works for him.
S1: I think it was in high school gym when it was suggested to him and he even younger.
S11: Yeah, yeah. And he’s like tinkered a lot with it over the years. And I think there are some other experiments like he was. There’s a point where he’s talked about doing sidesaddle partying, which is where you, like, stand facing the hall and like hit the ball from the side. That didn’t really last very long. But he’s always coming up with these different advances that people think are kind of crazy. And I guess some of them work out and some of them don’t. But I mean, as far as I know, when you say he would do anything to win, what what are you getting at, Josh?
S3: What I’m getting at is that, you know, Ken Caminiti didn’t win the MVP because he ate Snickers bars. And so I’m just wondering if, like in 20 years from now, if we’re going to look back at these stories that say Bryson won by eating bacon. I mean, is it protein shakes? Is this all is this all just like a collective like fiction that we’re that we’re buying into?
S1: I don’t know. Of course I don’t know. Of course. Of course. I mean, he was clearly a weird dude. Look, I mean, my favorite quote was from this there was an interview that he did in which he talked about all kinds of weird shit. And he said, I mean, my goal is to live to one hundred and thirty or one hundred and forty. He said, I mean, is he just sort of crazy or is this like part of cultivating some sort of golf antihero?
S11: I think he’s just strange. And he said something after a Saturday interview where I guess he had I think it was Saturday, he had had some trouble. And, you know, they asked what happened is his he said something like, I didn’t one of my governors was not activated or something like bizarre. Like I had no idea. I was talking about I don’t know if what that even means governors, but he’s always is throwing out these things. I think part of it is like he wants to show how smart and ingenious he is. I don’t actually, like, know if he’s a brilliant physicist, like they talk about him like I wish some interviewers would just ask him some basic physics questions and see if he, like, can actually answer them.
S3: But he does like asking Trump what the three branches of government are like in the same vein.
S11: Yeah. So I don’t really know why he does these things other than he just is, you know, an irritating person.
S3: And the other golfers on tour don’t like him because he. Too slow. Yeah, fans don’t like him because why or or does he have some sort of constituency or is he just generally hated?
S11: I mean, I don’t know. I haven’t done a poll of where all my viewers. I know that like like really like heavy golf watchers such as myself do not like him, like golf. Twitter does not like him. Find him kind of irritating a guy from SMU.
S6: Go figure.
S11: Yeah. And I don’t think that, like, there’s no sign that he, like, drives up ratings or anything either.
S1: Why wouldn’t he drive up ratings? I mean, he’s bombed the shit out of the ball. He looks different. He’s sort of changing the way a professional golfer thinks about golf. And it’s kind of indisputable, isn’t it, Jim, that if you hit the ball 30 yards farther on your drive, you’ve got a a more a more amenable shot into the green. So doesn’t some of this just makes sense?
S11: No, it makes sense. I mean, I don’t know why people have to get more excited about that, you know, and I don’t know. It’s just bludging it further. And but, I mean, it makes sense what he’s doing because it’s not just like hitting it 30 yards further down the fairway or into the rough. And he was into the rough quite a lot like everyone else week. But when you have that much speed, you can get your clubs so quickly through the roof that it’s like it’s not even there. And I think that’s like at Wingfoot, I think that’s where it was even a bigger advantage to him that you can get to the you know, if a ball is in six inches of rough or whatever, you can just get to the bottom of it and not have to lose control completely. So it’s working. But like when you said it was like kind of reminding you of baseball, I think that’s something that’s happening a little bit in golf in general, where players are less concerned about having a 20 or 30 year career with a healthy swing and they’re more kind of looking at where they can maximize their prime. So it may be something where the more golf golfers build themselves, you know, they’re you know, they could get into the late 30s and have health problems and really kind of be out of it.
S1: Well, isn’t Tiger the the the argument against all of this? I mean, he changed his body and he changed his swing. He ended up getting hurt a lot.
S3: I think Bryson would probably trade if you could ask him, would you take Tiger’s career? Plus Tiger’s health issues, it seems like he would probably sign on to that deal. Yeah, I think anyone would.
S6: Yeah. And I mean I mean, that could be anything, right? Like any athlete could get hurt for any particular reason to to try to, you know, weight, you know, weight gain or, you know, change in your body like that. Could that could happen under any circumstances.
S1: Tiger didn’t need to do that to get the career he had. He already had that career. Bryson hasn’t had that career. And he’s trying to he reshaped his body to get it.
S3: So, Joel, know, one thing that all this brings up to me is the like with baseball in the Moneyball era with like strikeouts walks and home runs, there is a lot of talk about, you know, Jim Newell ask like decline in artistry in the game. What about advancing the runner? What about the stolen base and then and basketball. Exactly. We’ve seen with the Houston Rockets or the the DeChambeau best team in the league and like the least kind of willing to succumb to conventional wisdom or social convention and just are willing to play a brand of basketball that is maybe less aesthetically pleasing and that’s annoying to a lot of fans, but that they feel gives them a competitive advantage. So this this to me does not seem unique to golf. And it’s actually like a phenomenon that we’ve seen across a whole bunch of sports.
S5: Yeah. I mean, you know, I think the the comparison to baseball is the correct one. And the reason I’m going to say this is and I don’t want to be irresponsible here, but what I would say is that I think that we probably underestimate the extent to which performance enhancing drugs is responsible for many of the great athletic performances we see. And I’m reminded of when Roger Clemens came to the Houston Astros and Roger Clemens pretended that he had invented push ups, that he was the first person that had ever worked up, that I remember Tom Verducci. His cover story on him was very credulous. You know, Roger Clemens goes out for a run around the outfield and does all this other shit. And I’m just like, dog, everybody is working out. You didn’t you didn’t invent anything. You didn’t come up with anything new. And I can’t say that this you know, you all obviously know a lot more about golf than I do. But I can’t believe that this even this approach, is it something that is that unique? This is a truly nobody that has ever been like, fuck it, man, I’m just going to hit the ball and it’s going to go far and that’s going to give me a better chance.
S3: Well, Gary Woodland, who won the US Open last year, hits the ball superfine.
S11: I mean, I think the the like if you look at Bryson based on last year, he’s basically picked up twenty yards. I don’t think anyone has ever jumped twenty yards in one year. So, I mean, it really is just this change is the.
S1: Is more rapid than anything we’ve seen before and without apparently sacrificing enough touch to win the US Open by six strokes, right?
S11: I mean, that’s the other thing we should say. You know, it’s not just that any random person could get that big and just win because of speed. I mean, he was an extremely good player before this, too. So, you know, you can’t just have, like, a random guy do it.
S3: And here’s what the trainer said. We should mention. Under normal circumstances, you’d say the only way somebody can make those changes is by taking steroids. And I can guarantee you that’s not been part of his process. Not even I thought it it’s just been part of the evolution of him being involved in this program and being able to tolerate the forces that his body has been able to tolerate. And those changes in strength have been amazing. But it’s all natural from this end of it.
S1: Can I just can I just put a Eximbank closure here? The guy works with the Denver Broncos. He gave me a massage to you guys. How good was it? How good was that? The Broncos player swore by the guy. A couple of guys on the team did later test positive for what I was going to say that Broncos team was this era.
S5: Was this Bill Romanowski? No go OK? No, Romo just told me you’re fifty seven. So I’m confused.
S3: Jim, as a competitive golfer yourself with a admirably low handicap, you must be looking at all this stuff that Bryson does. And you are obsessive about getting that handicap down. You’re always talking about these new ball. Yeah, but you must be looking at this guy and being like you’re like taking notes. You’re like you hate the guy, but you’re like, all right, coefficient of restitution sidesaddle. You’re like you want to implement the stuff into your own game.
S11: Yeah, I know. I’m working on my own textbook. I’m just trying to get the equations right so then I can figure out golf, I guess. Yeah. Just eating like six steaks every night. I guess that’s a big part of it. Lots of potatoes, protein shakes. Yeah, whatever. I think like literally six protein shakes can be like showing off his. He was showing off his protein shakes after the round yesterday, which is another thing that’s annoying. Like I don’t need to see it, you know, like I understand you take a protein shake.
S9: Stefán, the thing that you didn’t mention is his interest in doing stipple portrait’s like her in The Wall Street Journal. Do you see that the like his parents have some step of portrait of Ben Hogan. But the thing the thing is, Jim, like I want one of those. He wears that stupid hat like that Ben that Ben Hogan hat, what she’s wearing since it was like thirteen or something.
S3: But there there’s some you don’t wear that hat like there’s some part of him that wants to be like it kind of connected to the traditions of of the game and wants to like, you know, is that that right. That the it’s not like he’s a total iconoclast.
S11: Well, yeah, absolutely. I mean, the dude loves golf. I don’t know. I can’t locate what that psychological factor is, though, that makes him like just put in one thing that will irritate people in each interview. Like, I don’t know entirely what it is that he complained about his brand after being shown like hitting a bad shot or getting angry, like shows that he’s obviously very careful in the way he promotes himself. So obviously, he’s trying to do something, you know, when he’s putting in all these strange gimmicks and everything he says. I just don’t know entirely what it is.
S1: All right. Jim Newell, I want to leave you with the fact that Bryson DeChambeau has physics formulas stamped on his branded ions now. So I think you should probably do that, too. I don’t know what formulas you would come up with. Maybe some polling results.
S11: Yeah, maybe some some sampling methods or something on my ions. That’s really where they does that. Oh, my God, I didn’t know that.
S1: Jim Newell writes about golf and other things for Slate. Jim, thanks.
S12: Thank you, guys.
S3: Now it is time for after balls, and there was one thing that I forgot to mention during our Bryson DeChambeau segment, and so I’m going to take advantage of this opportunity now. He strikes me as the most likely person in the universe to say, why aren’t there sumo Goliaths and hockey like that?
S9: Seems like the total distillation of his personality and interest and weight gain like he wants. He wants to take advantage of all weight gain related quirks and sports roles. So, Stefan, before we started recording this segment, I was like, did we ever mention the sumo goalie thing on this podcast for. And you said. And then I Googled. And it turns out there was the sumo goalie edition of Hang Up and Listen from 2010. And then a couple of weeks later, I did an after ball on the Zambonis song Sumo Goalie. And so I don’t want to give any repeats. Even after 10 years, I’m going to keep it fresh. And so the blog, hockey blog, pension plan puppets was going through a bunch of hockey rules. They mentioned the sumo goalie as the thing that people talk about. They mentioned the morbid obesity. Goldi also as a possibility, but then one that I had never heard of before, the Hijrah goalie. Have all six players on one team lay atop one another or otherwise form some sort of phalanx where their combined bodies block the total surface area of the net? This seems like it would require a team to sign a Cirque de Soleil troupe, but let’s go with it. And they’d say, so far as I can tell, this is legal. None of the defending players except the actual goalie can fall on the puck, pick it up or gathered up in the crease or it’s a penalty shot. So I’m sure Bryson DeChambeau knows all about the NHL rulebook. I’m sure he read it all out longhand when he was in high school. But sumo goalie is out, Hydra goalie is in jail. What is your Heidrick goalie?
S5: My hydro goalie. So late Sunday night, Deon Sanders confirmed what sports news outlets have been reporting for the past few days that he’s going to be the new head football coach at Jackson State University. He broke the news on the first episode of his new podcast, 21ST in Prime God Called Me to Jackson State. Diane said it’s an audacious move for an audacious guy, a very big swing for a small, historically black university. Some might even consider it a necessary move for Jackson State, which hasn’t had a winning season since twenty thirteen and hasn’t won a league championship since twenty seven. At this point, Jackson State has been down for so long, the college football fans likely don’t know much about its legacy as a perennial power. Let’s step back in history for a moment. From nineteen seventy two to nineteen ninety six, Jackson State won thirteen Southwestern Athletic Conference Championships. That’s more than half of the league titles over that twenty four year span. The Tigers also won a black college football national championship in nineteen ninety six. Along the way, Jackson State produced much more than its fair share of college football legends, including Walter Payton and Jackie Slater. In fact, Jackson State has put four players into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, more than schools like Georgia, Florida, Texas and as many as the other three FBS schools and Mississippi combined. And even in Jackson states down years, which have been more plentiful as late, the school still regularly leads the FCS division in attendance as it did last year. So yeah, the Tigers has some impressive history. The same can’t be said for the program right now. So enter Deon, the Hall of Famer. Many consider the best cornerback in NFL history and one of the most distinctive personalities in the history of football. If Deon’s talent made him a legend, has charisma made him an icon? When you see today’s players high stepping into the end zone or dancing their way onto the field or theatrically celebrating even the most mundane past breakup, you’re seeing the fruits of Deon’s labor. To me as a kid, Dion was one of the rare NFL players who seem to celebrate football rather than merely endure it. Since retiring, Dion has largely kept up that persona on TV. He was most recently working for the NFL Network before signing a deal with barstool sports earlier this year, which is why he has a podcast now. So basically, the man once known as Neon Dion has never really left the spotlight since retiring in 2005. And Shirley Jackson State is counting on Dion bringing some of that spotlight with him to Mississippi. But it’s worth considering if that’s a good thing. First, we all know that the idea of the student athlete is pure bullshit. It was a term coined by the NCAA in the nineteen to dodge a workman’s compensation claim by the widow of a Fort Lewis A&M player. There’s mostly just the presence of players choosing and playing for schools because of academics. But even by that farcical standard, Deon’s ambition to run a college football program is the height of hypocrisy. Back in nineteen eighty nine, his alma mater, Florida State, was forced to apologize after it came out. The Deon didn’t go to class a senior year and played in the Sugar Bowl despite receiving failing grades. In response, the State University Systems Board of Regents enacted a regulation dubbed the Sanders Rule that forbids schools from allowing athletes to play in postseason games if they didn’t attend class or failed to pass the minimum numbers of hours. The Sanders rule. It’s worth noting, however, the deal now fifty three years old, finally completed his degree just a month ago, earning a diploma from a small BCU in Alabama called Talladega College. But most telling, if not most damning about Dean’s approach to school, was his disastrous tenure at Prime Prep Academy in Dallas. That charter school opened in 2012, billed as a prep academy for elite athletes. Deon said at the time, This would be wonderful. If we would educate these kids, we could marry the two sports and academics. Why can’t we do such a thing? Long story short, Deon wasn’t able to do such a thing. In a headline from February twenty sixteen, the Dallas Morning News summed it all up the spectacular collapse of Deon Sanders as Prime Prep Academy. The young was the head football. Coach there long enough to get fired twice the first time after a coworker accused them of assault. He was reinstated soon after but was fired a second time after losing a power struggle with the other school founders. Deon later pled no contest to the assault charge and paid a small fine prime prep closed in 2015 amid reports of financial impropriety and poor academic scores. By that time, Deon had moved on to triple-A Academy, that Dallas area school to eventually was forced to shut down in twenty seventeen. After years of failing to meet state academic standards, that was soon off to another local high school, Trinity Christian Cedar Hill is offensive coordinator there. Dán helped the program to back to back state championships in Texas’s private school league. His son Qadoura was the quarterback, but predictably, things are ending on a bad note there, too. The Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools place trinities football team on probation during the twenty seventeen season for eligibility violations and specifically reprimanded Sanders. Trinity left that league last season. It’s been competing as an independent this season. Think about it. Does that sound like the resume of a college football coach? Look, I know Jackson State is looking for a return to its former glory. I know this is ultimately about football and the big promise of Deon Sanders. But is the child to see you graduate? Shut up. I’d like to believe that those schools have a much different mission there. The schools that wanted us when no one else did, they are still the most reliable path into the middle class for the majority of black Americans. They are about building community, a sort of haven for black students and professors and administrators in a world that too often overlooks all of them. It’s a testament to Jackson state that fans still show up for the football games, even though the football is no longer good, which is fine. It really doesn’t have to be about the games. It’s about something much more than that. Jackson State deserves someone who understands that and someone who cares.
S4: That person isn’t Deon Sanders. I’m convinced he’s got a podcast. I mean, he should be busy enough.
S3: Yeah, I mean, the prime prep thing is a big story. When it came out and I wasn’t aware of what happened with the other schools, but somebody with his resume and it’s not like any of this stuff was was hidden, shouldn’t be able to get a college coaching job anywhere.
S1: Yeah, but when God calls you to Coach Jackson State, Josh, what are you going to do? You got to answer the call.
S4: Good luck to you, Jackson State.
S2: That is our show for today. Our producer is Melissa Kaplan. To listen to Pascoe’s and subscribe or just reach out, go to sleep, dot com slash hang up. You can email us and hang up at Slate dot com for Joel Anderson and Stefan Fatsis. I’m Josh Levine. Remembers our mobility and thanks for listening.
S10: Now it is time for our bonus segment for Slate plus members, and as we’re recording this on Monday morning, the top story on ESPN Dotcom by Bill Burnwell headline. The story of week two in the NFL was injuries. These 21 were the most impactful. Twenty one, only twenty one. But, Bill, you’re going to you’re not going to tell us the twenty second most impactful injury. So the first on his list is Nick Boza, the defensive end for the San Francisco Forty Niners just signed a huge contract extension, expected torn ACL, which would mean for the year one Barkley, the Giants running back, expected torn ACL would also be out for the year. Number three, the quarterback for the Broncos drew lock brain DC joint number four, Jimmy Garoppolo, the quarterback for the Forty Niners high ankle sprain.
S3: I’m not going to go through all twenty one of these Joel and Stephon, but there was and it’s it seems like there’s one of these every year in the NFL. This was like the week of carnage. And you mentioned this earlier, Joel. I’m not convinced that this had anything to do with the strangeness of the season. You could argue, and I think you probably should argue that the lack of preseason games probably means fewer injuries. The difficulty in practicing probably means fewer injuries. So when you look at this this long list, Joel, what are what are the things that you think? Is this just like football, football being football?
S5: Yeah, football is hard, man. It’s hard on the body. It’s bad for the body. And we’re seeing that. And yeah, to your point, I mean, you know, in years past, we would see important NFL players go down in preseason with season ending injuries and we’d be like, man preseason. Why are people playing so many games? Why are there so many workouts that, you know, up until this this year, there have been an ongoing conversation about whether or not four preseason games was too many. And, you know, the league and the NFL players union negotiated over, you know, shortening the preseason and extending the regular season. The reason is because they’re like, well, if they’re going to get hurt, they might as well get hurt in games that count. Well, they’re playing games account and people are getting hurt because it’s football. Right. So, I mean, I just I would have to see more data. And I’m sure that’s going to come out right. To see if this was some sort of significant if this was some sort of outlier in terms of injuries. But I suspect that it’s probably not.
S3: Well, it’s like we’re talking about earlier, Stefan, and like the the issue with playing football in a pandemic and how it works. But for the Big Ten and how it exposes what’s what’s really going on at these universities and how it doesn’t serve any kind of educational purpose. The issue there is not that the pandemic, the pandemic isn’t doing anything that hasn’t been done before.
S9: The issue is football. This is always just football. It’s football, Stefan.
S1: It’s football. It’s not like football players aren’t in shape when they show up in camp. They’ll coaches will talk about football shape, very important to stay in game shape, football shape, and then there’s game shape. Yes, it is a real thing. Football shape is something that you say. Yes, of course. Yeah, yeah, it is. Comes hit. Is your body beginning to acclimate? Suffering that punishment.
S9: A torn ACL is weakness leaving the body. That’s what I say though.
S1: I have to Bill Barnell is going to have to update his list because ding ding ding ding ding. This just in. ESPN is reporting that Christian McCaffrey is expected to be sidelined multiple weeks. He was at number six on Bama list, could bubble up a few slots.
S3: Michael Thomas of the Saints got hurt in week one and hadn’t missed any games in years. A do just like fell on his ankle.
S5: Like, that’s not that’s not football shape. No, but yeah. I mean, do you see Nick BOCES injury? I mean, it wasn’t like he got hurt in in a collision, you know what I mean? Like it was like, I mean that’s the sort of thing that happens in football. I don’t know if the shape he was in would have prevented his leg from turning at an awkward angle right now.
S1: And Cequent Barkley’s thighs are already the size of redwoods. You know, it wasn’t like, you know, he twisted weird. He landed funny on his knee. And it the ACL collapses. This is what happens. It breaks.
S3: So, Joel, like when a teammate or somebody on the opposing team would get hurt in a game or I guess it would just have to be a teammate and practice what goes through your head? Are you thinking like, thank God it wasn’t me? Are you thinking I guess maybe it depends on your relationship with with the guy, but like, what’s the thought process when you’re not just watching on RedZone, when you actually are involved in the game or know the person?
S5: Well, I mean, a lot of times you just don’t know. Right. There’s a lot of times I’ll never forget my senior year of high school. We were we had been playing, you know. We got to week eight and I was like, man, where’s our middle linebacker? Like, I was like, where’s Blake? And the old man Blake has been hurt for the last three weeks. I was like, oh, OK. It was it’s that kind of stuff. But then there’s also been times when I was at TCU, I’ll never forget the first play of our spring game. One of our safeties, like I think has his knee. He he hurt himself in such a way in which his knee was bent it in like a 90 degree angle and everybody like it was just a pall cast over the side. I was like, oh, you want to do this shit anymore? It was it was that it was that bad, scary something. I guess it just sort of depends on the extent of the injury. Right.
S3: Well, on a rare example, when you actually knew that an injury had happened in real time, because often you’re just like, yes, oh, you’re you’re like aware of the one yard to the left and right of of you, but not anything else.
S5: Yeah, right. Like, I vividly remember, but we were all like looking at him on the ground with his leg at a weird angle screaming, you know what I mean. It was hard to miss that. Yeah. Right. So it was like one of those things is like, like I vividly remember even to this day. So yeah man. I mean it just depends on the injury. And I mean, some injuries affect players more than others. But I mean, you look at I’m sure the Giants saw Cequent Barkley go down in there like, oh, shit. But like some backup tackle that, you know, had his shoulder thrown out or something like that. They probably don’t even notice it until later. And again, it’s you know you know, the ethos is in football, you know, next man up, you know. Yeah. It’s just everybody that gets into the game understands that that is one of the potential consequences. And so you just kind of got to be ready for it.
S1: But, you know, Bill, Mandrels injury list actually should be 1500 players. All right.
S3: Everybody’s heard after the very first moment that they show up and, you know, four games as far as fans, I think if you choose to go through life and I think a lot of lot of the time we do just like thinking of injuries as kind of things on and again on a transaction wire. And this guy’s in and this guy’s out like you can you can do that. Like the NFL exists in such a way that it allows us to think of these things as abstractions.
S9: But the one category of injury that is not possible to ignore our quarterback injuries because backup quarterbacks are bad or backup quarterbacks are clearly worse, especially when a particular backup quarterbacks are not allowed in the league due to racism, diminishes the pool, the pool slightly. But, you know, if if you’ve got Nick Mullin starting in San Francisco and you have Jeff Driscol like, you know, kind of below replacement level, SCC quarterback Jeff Driscol starting in in Denver.
S5: Hey, just got busy this weekend, man. Yeah.
S9: I mean, I guess John Brantley wasn’t available. Maybe Chris Leak is not not available, Chris. Definitely Phillippi Franks is not eligible to be in the league. But that’s the thing where in the world of fandom, it’s like, oh, these injuries actually have consequences. Now, this is like affecting my quality of life. The might my my quarterback on my team is not good anymore.
S5: And then that’s like, oh, injuries really are a problem. Yeah. I mean, Von Miller got hurt, you know, like before and I don’t even think it was I think was before the games even got started, you know what I mean. And we just didn’t miss him. But yeah, like a quarterback injury. I mean, Jimmy Garoppolo got hurt who played in Jimmy Garoppolo place. I said McMullen’s. Collins, it was Nick Malone. OK, I didn’t realize that he’s still on the team. Yeah, yeah, yeah. I’m sure he looked good. McMullan is not a bad quarterback.
S9: I’m sure he appreciates that. Stefan, what is your number one injury memory from Broncos training camp is there from reading Nate’s books? I know he was probably injured multiple times during that training camp, but is there was there like a horrible screaming and agony moment or a more subtle kind of I don’t recall that there was a torn ACL or anything that that ended someone’s season.
S1: In the two months I was there, there was a pinky that went sideways, like in a really bad way that required surgery the next day. And he was back, you know, on the field two days after that. It was a back up offensive lineman who could not afford to take any time off or he would lose his chance to make the team. And then there was also the one that I had that I remember there was one scene that I included in the book where an offensive lineman couldn’t raise his arm above his shoulder after a after a drill because he fell on it the wrong way. He just kept playing pop it back in and just kept going. What year was this stuff? In 2006.
S6: OK, so this is really before even like our national reckoning about. Even like brain trauma, right, we got to that feeling of it.
S1: Yeah, I mean, it wasn’t even really a conversation. The New York Times had done a few stories, but it was not a prevalent conversation, though. I did talk to players about it.
S3: A few seconds of panic available in bookstores. They write a great book. Thank you, Stefan. Thanks. Thank you, John. You’re welcome. Thank you. Sleepless members. Thanks, Josh. We’ll be back with more NFL injuries next week, no doubt.
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