S1: The following podcast contains explicit language, including the words, 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 March 15th, two thousand and twenty one on this week’s show, we’re going to talk about March Madness and the road to the Final Four, which this year is about avoiding covid-19. We’ll also discuss the eyes of Texas, the song the University of Texas plays before and after football games, which has become the subject of heated debate at the school because of its historical connection to minstrel shows and also as the life and career of Marvelous Marvin Hagler, the middleweight boxing champ who died on Saturday at the age of 66. I’m in Washington, D.C. laughter between the host of Slow Burn Season four on David Duke, also in D.C.. Stefan Fatsis, he’s the author of the book Word Freak and A Few Seconds of Panic. Hello, Stefan.
S3: Hey, Josh. And also with us, Slate staff writer, the host of Slow Burn Season three and the upcoming Season six, get hype, Joel Anderson.
S4: Hey, good morning, everybody. Check out the link that I just sent around me.
S5: OK, we’re doing this on the air, doing this in real time, a real time. Can you can you read the headline and the.
S4: Wow, it’s like this. It’s like this story was created just for me. Did you all assigned this story because of me? Anyway, the headline is How to Win Your NCAA Pool. The subhead says, Act like a hedge fund manager and pick Houston to win it all. I am elated. That would be more exciting to me than even TCU winning a national championship, to be honest.
S5: So this is the story that we really also that we read every year where the premise says we’re going to identify the team that the general public most undervalues, that the general public most disrespects the general public. Yeah, most Hayesod, I tell you, the readers of Slate Dotcom, they should pick them to win your bracket because they’re the most undervalued asset and that this year that team is the Houston Cougars. Everybody thinks Gonzaga is going to win, although like prediction systems, all the ESPN dotcom tournament challenge people and Houston is considered to be very, very good by all of the advanced numbers, the analytics. They’re one of the top few teams in the country, but only like two percent of ESPN dotcom users think they’ll win the tournament.
S6: And so, Joel Anderson, I don’t know if this is the year that they’re going to win, but this is the year that Houston is the most undervalued compared to their, I would argue, the Houston Houston in terms of program institution and city is perpetually undervalued and at peril to anybody else that underestimates us. But, yeah, I mean, for people, they didn’t grow up with Slama Jamma. It is almost surreal to see that my colleagues are back in this national moment. Shout out to Kelvin Sampson. We thought his career was over. I mean, I know I know that he probably shouldn’t have been making those illegal phone calls in Indiana. But I mean, Indiana, don’t you kind of wish you had him back now?
S5: And no, there was no collusion or coordination here. I had sent this link to Joel in real time. He had no idea that this even existed.
S6: He encourages me. I know people get tired of me talking about Houston, but Josh encourages this. So if you guys want to blame somebody, you you direct your emails to Josh.
S5: OK, let’s transition into our conversation of all of March Madness, including Houston, but not just exclusively Houston. And let’s flash back to March of twenty twenty for a moment. When basketball or more accurately, the lack of basketball was the thing that forced a lot of us to reckon with the fact that the world wasn’t normal then and was not going to be normal for a very long time. The NBA went on pause. College conference tournaments got shut down one by one. Then the whole NCAA tournament, men’s and women’s got canceled, depriving the NCAA of hundreds of millions of dollars of revenue and depriving sports fans of an annual source of joy. Now, a year later, our ritual is back and the money is back. We’ve got the conference tournaments cutting down the nets, the bubble teams, the big thieves, the selection show the brackets and soon the Cinderellas and hopefully some buzzer beaters as long as they’re not by St. Bonaventure. But the world still isn’t normal and the tournament will not be either. All of the men’s games will be in Indiana, the women’s in Texas. It’s possible that not every team that got bracketed in will make it to the opening tip. Virginia and Kansas men’s teams both had to shut it down during their conference tournaments due to positive covid tests, and they could be replaced in the field if they don’t test negative repeatedly in the coming days. Stefan, we talk pretty much every week about the moral compromises that sports forces us to make. I think we’ll probably talk about that in every segment that we do today in some way or another. I am really excited about this tournament. I’m going to watch a whole hell of a lot of it, it’s going to be fun, but they are really piling on the moral compromises this year.
S7: Yeah, I mean, I’d argue that the tournament might be more morally indefensible than usual, but at least it’s morally indefensible in an actually new and noteworthy and newsworthy way. I watch the bracket reveal show on CBS and I found myself really torn between the usual feelings. On the one hand, oh, coalgate, only one loss. There’s a team called the antelopes in the drawer. And on the other hand, maybe someone should have at least noted that Kansas and Virginia were booked for opening games on Saturday instead of Friday so that their players could have an extra day to rack up the requisite number of consecutive covid free days. The specter of a deadly virus causing forfeits in an NCAA tournament being played in isolation. Bubbles in a single state was treated kind of just like another quirk of America’s favorite, quirky and unpredictable big event. Can Grand Canyon upset Iowa in the first round? Was given the same sort of, you know, moral importance as will COGAT keep defending champion Virginia from showing up at all? I mean, just listen to this.
S3: The reason is the defending champion is because there was no turning tournament.
S7: Right? So let’s listen to the sequence among Greg Gumbel, Seth Davis and Clark Kellogg on the CBS show.
S4: Seth Davis, what stands out to you? I’m loving this 12 and 13 matchup here. Both those guys march on. I like UC Santa Barbara in the Sweet 16 and down here, the sets up well for USC. Remember, Clark, Kansas has had some covid issues shout out to the Ohio style Bobcats because the last time they got to the tournament, 2012, our son Nick was part of a sweet sixteen run and they started as a 13 seed. So maybe some good omen there.
S5: Clubcard did almost let him finish his sentence about finish his job.
S6: Yeah, Ivy, it’s like it’s almost like we know one of those, like cursing buzzers or whatever. When you’re on air, get there, decide, you know, blurt out the bird out the curse word. And I guess covid is like the curse word in this instance. But yeah, I’m like I’m kind of like Tzion Josh in this instance. Did you see what he said last night when they asked him about the tournament?
S8: Trick question. Duke’s not in it.
S6: I don’t care about that. I’m not interested. That’s right. But more seriously, I mean, you know, March Madness is always been our biggest compromise as college sports fans. It’s the moneymaker that, you know, makes it that allows the NCAA to do what it does right like this. Almost nearly a billion dollars a year makes it possible for the NCAA to keep this little cabal going on, this amateur athletics cabal going on. And, you know, in a year with a pandemic is still an ongoing issue. And a few places are easing up on some of these early restrictions. The tournament just reminds us that we’re still not back to normal. We’re still a long ways from that. But the games must go on for college athletes who have limited, say, in absolutely no representation in this matter. And think about how they’re being subjected to this unprecedented arrangement where they’re isolated from their classmates and family members. It must undergo like these uncomfortable testing processes that we’ve all surely seen by this point. Right. Like you remember, it was, I guess, a couple of weeks ago the Draymond Green talked about how particularly hard it was for NBA players who have like money, you know, leverage in their relationship with their owners. Like he talked about how difficult it was for them to go through this process every day, getting tested, going to the gym. Imagine how that’s magnified for younger players who also presumably trying to complete their classwork. Right. And so now basically, we’re in a situation where the players are going to be living in an NBA style bubble. A lot of teams are going from their campus or from the conference championship sites directly to go to Indianapolis so that they don’t risk infection or missing a game with the coronavirus outbreak. So it’s just I mean, look, man, we’ve seen the largest motivating factor in muscling through a season is if you really want to. And they’re basically just counting on wearing us down like we knew that this was ridiculous from the start. A few months ago when we wanted this show, we were saying there’s no way they’ll be to play college basketball. Right. That’s crazy. How could they do that? It’s logistically impossible and it’s going to create outbreaks all over the country and then it will happen in the middle of this season. You know, some team would have to sit out games or a player would miss a game and we’d bring it up. And then we kind of forget about it. And now they’ve made it to the showcase. And that’s all that matters. They can cast their check now. So, I mean, Josh, you know, if these if these organizations and institutions don’t want the virus to be a real impediment, it doesn’t have to be.
S7: You know, Joel, you’re not looking on the bright side, man. At least this year, the players aren’t going to miss classes because they can still go to their classes.
S4: Oh, that’s right. They could take the classroom with them wherever they go. Exactly.
S8: That is a great point. The reason the players, a big reason that they want to go to college to play basketball is to make it to the tournament. And so this is the end goal and a finish line for the players to let’s not pretend like they’re being dragged kicking and. Screaming and don’t want to play and these games, there is a lot of like interest and excitement and enthusiasm from all corners, from fans.
S6: Josh, I don’t want I should interrupt you, but I mean, come on. Do we really know if the players if the players said they didn’t want to do this and this is uncomfortable, do you think we would ever hear about it?
S8: I mean, some teams have opted out and decided not to play this year. You know, more on the women’s side than the men’s side. And a lot of the teams that did were ones that didn’t really have much of a chance to play in the tournament, ones that didn’t have great teams. I don’t think we’ve heard or seen examples of teams this year that are doing really great where the players like, you know what, I’m not into this anymore.
S5: You might be right that there’s a disincentive to really speak up and ruin everyone’s fun and be like the turd and the NCAA punch bowl. But I think I would gather that for a high percentage of the players they want to be playing and they want to be in the tournament. And I just wish that I’m willing to go along with it, like for all that it’s like messed up and that it shouldn’t happen. I’m willing to go along with it. It brings a lot of people, not just revenue, but joy. But I just wish they had done just a few, like a few things differently to make it a little bit less morally compromised, like the conference tournaments.
S9: They didn’t really need to happen and they didn’t need to happen so close to the start of the tournament. And it actually imperils the tournament and imperils that cash cow by increasing the chance that there’s, you know, covid spread among teams. Does it really matter compared to the big tournament, just like don’t have the conference tournaments or like make them earlier in the calendar to give teams a little bit more time off?
S7: Well, I mean, right. I mean, there’s no reason that the that the NCAA tournaments had to start to have to start on particular days. Right. They could have built in the buffer after the conference tournaments. I mean, if they weren’t going to cancel the conference tournaments, which were played also for revenue reasons and some in some cases, there would be arguments made that they were played for competitive reasons, too, because some conferences played so few regular season games, either because athletic directors decided that it was a bad idea to do a lot of traveling. I mean, Colgate, which we can talk a little bit about, played 15 games there, 14 and won 13 of those games were against the same four schools. I think actually the first 12 games were against the same three schools because of the way that their conference decided to schedule this. So I was actually surprised when I looked at the schedule and realized, oh, they’re going to start the tournament like this Thursday after the selection show on Sunday. Why not build in an extra week so that Virginia and Kansas and other teams presumably wouldn’t be sort of going down to the wire testing players to see if they can get seven in a row? Why not make sure everyone was healthy before they go to the bubble?
S6: Well, I mean, because this is part of, you know, national routine, right. Like it happens now. I mean, you know, this is why this is muscle memory. This is the way we do it. And the only adjustments we can make are for the you know, in the moment, like if things affect us. Right. But presumably they just felt like, well, we’re just going to play our way through it. And whatever happens at the end of it is what happens.
S5: Well, they did they did make some adjustments, though, like the first two rounds or Friday to Monday instead of Thursday to Sunday. And that’s like, oh, well, look, it doesn’t seem like a small thing, but it does kind of contradict what you just said. Like, they can change things if they want to. And they did change. They did change at least a small thing.
S4: Well, I mean, but again, why not? I mean, you know, I’m not I guess I’m not quite as caught up in, you know, the calendar, I guess. Right. Because, I mean, you can just sort of the whole enterprise is the problem, not when it happens.
S6: And like I said, it’s more excusable for NBA players who have a collective bargaining agreement and who have a union representation than it is to put college basketball players through this, to make them basically live out of a suitcase. I think somebody mentioned that like Rick Pitino, who, you know, is back in the tournament again. Good coach, maybe not such a great person, but he’s back in a tournament with Iona. And they said that when he went to the conference tournament that he brought like a shit load of luggage because they weren’t going back home. Well, I mean, presumably the players are having to do the same stuff. The calendar doesn’t make much, is not as big a deal for me as it is the fact that the players are having to go through this, like, cumbersome process just for I like, you know, our entertainment, like, it just seems unconscionable, but like we’ve just made a series of my cons. decisions throughout the year related to the pandemic in sports programming. And this is just a.
S5: Well, let me let me say this all and see if you agree, like there’s kind of a cliche in sports that and this is in sports where you get paid about the table, that you play the games for free and you get paid to practice. And I feel like the players went through all of this stuff that you’re talking about during the season. Like Stanford, they weren’t at home for like a huge chunk of time because of rules. And that in the county, you know, Stefan mentioned Colgate, but we can talk about Michigan going on a long covid pause about all sorts of schools that had to deal with all sorts of shit throughout the entire season. And the tournament is kind of bringing that stuff to light because it’s the time when America pays the most attention to college basketball. But I still feel like for all of the slog that all of these players had to go through from the time that school started until now, that this feels like more of a reward than a punishment. It’s like, oh, I have to go on the road for like a couple weeks now. It’s like I don’t feel like a players are going to be that upset about that, given all of the stuff that they had to go through the entire season to get on the road to the Final Four.
S4: I if you want to get off the hook and feel good about, like in a tournament you could look at, you’re you’re going to be that way. When you still make the sweet 16, you’re going to be in your you know. Oh, yeah. Yeah, right. Yeah. I’ve got my fossil energy. I’m a Texas tallest fraternity shirt ready to go.
S7: This feels like the least problematic of everything that’s happened so far in college basketball. You know, they’re isolating the players and the teams in individual hotels. They’re grouping the early rounds in one or two gyms. Right. I mean, this is all as probably, you know, as cautious as anything that’s happened so far. You know, Duke’s Duke get the drop out of the tournament goes over covid test in the ACC while they were playing in this tournament. I mean, the amount of travel the teams suffered during the pandemic was crazy. I mean, in only some conferences really ratcheted it down like Colgate’s. You know, they played their schedule was three teams and they played them four times each in the regular season.
S1: How are you doing? Guerilla marketing for Colgate.
S4: I love Colgate. Tucker Colgate located in upstate New York. Is it really? Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.
S7: So, I mean, I was just kind of watching that show, thinking of the Ivy League should have just had a tournament after canceling the season. They should have had like a tournament and like the winner with a record of two and oh, you know, could have made it to the end.
S8: Well, I have a tournament and I’ll just draw straws.
S4: And I mean, I guess the thing is, is that like I mean, look, I acknowledge that if you’re a player, this is what you play for. Right? Like, this is the only part of this that sounds like it’s. All right. Continue. No, it is a concession. But remember, earlier in the year when we said the only way they can do this is if they have a bubble but they can’t have a bubble because they’re not professionals like that is that is wrong. Like we should not subject college athletes to this. We are talking about the season. Yeah, right. But now we’re talking about it now, like, it’s just, oh, well, they want to be there and it’s just this is the way you do the tournament on college basketball.
S7: College basketball players have been going on the road and staying in hotels for two weeks at a time since they were ten years old.
S4: Yeah. Is different. Yeah, they’ve been. That’s right. They’ve been doing they’ve been doing it. They had a lot of practice for a pandemic, but staying in hotels throughout their teenage years. That’s correct. I don’t want to be the fuddy duddy here. I’m sorry. I don’t want to be the person that spoils the fun. I’m going to watch the tournament probably. Yeah. I mean, but I also like. You’re going to be surrounding the whole time. Well, no, let’s just talk about like let’s be honest. Like we don’t know anything about any of these teams. Like I did you watch college, but I watched one college basketball game this year from start to finish, and it involved Kate Cunningham, who is the best NBA prospect in college basketball. Like, I don’t I don’t give a shit about, you know, good Zacchaeus fourth best player. Pretty good. I don’t know who I don’t know who I know Baylor is. You know, the number two overall seed there in the big twelve? That’s my school, my alma mater, top rival. I don’t know anything about them. There’s no one. I know Jill Colgan at my kitchen table. I would know they were kind up.
S7: Colgate is coached by a panel, so I’m rooting for Coleman. Right. OK, and I misspoke. I said the Ivy tournament would have been, too, and it would have been a three in our record together.
S5: Look, all I know is that Gonzaga is fourth best players. Andrew Nembhard. The transfer.
S4: That’s all. That’s all. That is third best.
S5: Third best, I think would probably be Drew Timmy the center. And then you got Kispert and Jaylen. So OK. Yeah, don’t don’t pretend. I mean, you’re falling squarely into the American tradition of only paying attention to March Madness at the. Start of March Madness.
S10: So I think it’s all good before we move on, I wanted to also just mention the women’s tournament. That bracket hasn’t been announced yet as we record this podcast and talk about weird covid situations. Michelle Vogel of ESPN noted that in the Missouri Valley Women’s Tournament, Bradley won the tournament. Drake, whom he played in the final, was without four players, the head coach and two assistants, Drake only had eight players, one assistant coach available who acted as the head coach. The regular season champion was Missouri State. It withdrew from the tournament rather than playing against Bradley in the semifinals because Bradley had a Tier one positive covid-19 test. We’ll talk about the women’s tournament on a show coming soon.
S4: Two months ago, one of the first questions Steve Sarkisian fielded as the new head football coach at the University of Texas was about the school song, The Eyes of Texas. A reporter asked Sarkeesian his thoughts about the song, which traces its origins to a minstrel show around the turn of the 20th century with students, white students likely wore blackface and asked him whether he’d open a dialogue with his players who maybe didn’t want to sing it here with seclusions response. You know, we support that song. We’re going to sing that song. We’re going to sing it proudly. Not so fast, Coach. A university committee last week released a 58 page report about the eyes of Texas, concluding the intent of the song was not overtly racist in offering a long list of recommendations for how the university could move forward. Josh in a piece for Slate last week. Tyler Valasco pointed out the players won’t have to stand on the field after games and sing the song because of, you know, the First Amendment rights. But what does this say about Texas that it had to go this far?
S1: I think what it says is that there are a bunch of different constituencies that the school is trying to satisfy here. I can think of three. No. One is donors. Rich white donors, namely in Texas Tribune, did a really good job with public information requests, getting emails that were very explicit and saying, we are going to pull our seven figure donations. If the school doesn’t affirm the song, say it’s the school song and stand behind the song. There are a bunch of people that said this, and that is a group that school administrators want to keep happy. The second constituency is alums, fans, whatever. And I would recommend that opinion on the eyes of Texas. Among that group is more varied, and I’m sure there are lots of people who have the same opinion as the donors. And I’m sure there are lots who think the song should go and there are some in the middle. And then the third group is the athletes, football players, most prominently the ones who came out against the song in the fall of last year, who said they wanted it replaced that said they didn’t want to sing it. Predominantly black football team. That doesn’t feel like the song represents them. And then you’ve also got football players who might consider going to the school.
S5: And so potential recruits and how the fact that the song that originated in minstrel shows might play to, you know, a black 17 year old who’s considering going to Texas and considering going that lots of other schools in the country that maybe don’t have a school song with that history. And so when you look at all of those different groups, you’re not going to be able to satisfy all of them or most of them even. And so that’s why you end up with a 60 page report that gets into all of the kind of and I thought it was a good report, actually, that gets into the all of the all of the nuance and history here. And Stefan, in reading the report, what I came away with is I actually think it’s despite it being a good report and I think it being nuanced and smart and a lot of ways I think it’s actually going to be used as a cudgel against the folks who want to get rid of the song because of the way in which it says the lyrics aren’t explicitly racist. It wasn’t written with the kind of racist intent. And so that powerful people connected to the school can now have a document and point to it and say, see, the song is a racist.
S10: Right. And I think it’s important to step back here and talk about some of the history and what the committee concluded. If I didn’t know anything about the history of the eyes of Texas, I could not have, you know, a single word of the eyes of Texas. I couldn’t even told you that it is sung to the tune of I’ve been working on the railroad. So it was written in nineteen eighty two by a student. The problem with it has been argued is that the phrase the eyes of Texas are upon you was inspired by the president of the University of Texas at the time, and it had been reported for years that that the President, William Fraser, had borrowed it from Robert E. Lee, the Confederate War general. The committee found that no, actually, there’s no evidence that Lee used the phrase, but there was a different Confederate General John Gragg of Texas, who reportedly once told his soldiers, the eyes of General Lee are upon you.
S11: I’m not sure that’s exculpatory in any way, but it is you know, it is revelatory and it is historically accurate and interesting. But I think you’re right, Josh. I think there are two issues of the. One is that, hey, this is just history. There was no explicit racial intent. Look at the lyrics. They’re not explicitly racial. And to yes, there’s a First Amendment issue here because Texas is a public institution. And the conclusion was that you can’t stop players from not singing the song. Or even staying on the field while the song is being sung in the stands, the real problem becomes it’s a pressure point on players, it’s a pressure point on members of the band that are told they have to play it. It’s a pressure point on athletes who already feel that they are there. But for the grace of the coaches and the football administration or the athletic department, I got to keep my scholarship. If I don’t sing the song, what’s that going to mean?
S4: There’s a lot of pressure on them to participate in this. And you heard at least one of the players say that alumni have said, well, you won’t be able to get a job here in the state if if you keep this up, if you keep protesting that song, which is a kind of a scary thing to hear when you’re 17, 18, 19 years old, you know, even if that’s not a threat that has any real heft behind it, it’s still a sort of a scary prospect that these rich, white, wealthy boosters, Texas fans, might remember you 10 years later when you’re in need of a job. Right. But you’re kind of going back to Josh’s point about all these different constituencies. So I’m sort of of a different constituency, right. I’m a native Texan. I’ve grown up here, didn’t live anywhere else until I was like twenty four years old. And I don’t want to pretend to speak for all black Texans here. But my friend Bomani Jones is pointing this out more than a few times. So I feel comfortable. Go ahead and say it. He points out that I’m probably in the last generation of black Texans who remember a time when the school was seen as deeply and explicitly oppositional to black folks. Right. So that’s talking about the team and the institution. And that’s from creating standardized testing to keep out. Black people like the University of Texas is was instrumental in creating standardized testing so they wouldn’t have to admit black students. They created a separate law school at Texas Southern University here in Houston so they wouldn’t have to admit black aspiring black law students. Right. And I also grew up at a time when it was Brees about talked about a lot. I was born eight, nine years after UT fielded the last all white national champion. When I was going to college, there was a big fight over affirmative action in the state and one of the school’s law professors had said something to black. You know, black students didn’t have the capacity to to get into law school without affirmative action. And so there’s like this history here that Texas is not like you would think the Texas would want to offer a handout and say, hey, look, maybe we’re dealing with this this history and we want to do something different. And the institution is. But you see that there’s like this very powerful group of people that don’t want anything to change. And I’m not solely like I’m from the South. I know that Texas isn’t alone here.
S6: There are a lot of places and a lot of institutions that are begrudgingly grappling with these racist traditions and foundations. Is that like you can commit from Texas and commit to Texas A&M and Mizzou and avoid this? Right. But some kids are just going to have to decide. Much like many black Texans over the years, aspiring college students, aspiring black college students in Texas, you’re just going to have to decide, is this the strain of institutional racism that you want to deal with? And, you know, I’ll be interested to see what happens going forward from here.
S12: That’s a great point about the school being a flagship institution of the state and representing everyone in the state to a degree, not just the people that went there, not just the people that root for the football team. And you mentioned Texas A&M, that same Texas Tribune piece mentioned that A&M commissioned a study about how alumni donations would be affected if they took down a campus statue of a former university president and Confederate General Lawrence Sullivan Ross. And according to that study, they found that they could expect a short term drop, but long term fundraising would likely remain unaffected. We haven’t seen or heard anything about a similar study being commissioned by the University of Texas, but it would surprise me if it hadn’t been at least conducted informally, thinking about, all right, if we get rid of the song, how will that affect donations? How will that affect, you know, the future of the university from a financial perspective? This is like obviously what they’re thinking about. But, you know, the other thing that it brings to mind to me is thinking about the 16 19 project and this idea of like, OK, the Constitution was written by racists, by slaveholders. And the Constitution has kind of been transformed over the years, both through amendments, through judicial rulings and just through kind of different interpretations of the original words there to in some ways be more inclusive. But for the eyes of Texas, I mean, that sounds like very grandiose to compare the US. Situation to the eyes of Texas, but, you know, I think you right, Joel, to start with the Sarkisyan line, because he was signaling there in his first press conference, I’m not actually interested in the nuance here or in reinterpreting this song or thinking about the ways in which it could be. It has been used over the years to be more inclusive and has been used in in protest. He was signaling to the donors and the boosters and the alums like, I’m with you. And so all of this like nuance in this report. Steffon, again, it feels like the people that really need to hear that and need to understand that are the ones that are the least interested in really wrestling with it.
S10: That’s right. The nuance is beside the point. The point is that how do you react to history? How do you react to the telling of the story of this song? And should this flagship institution for one of the biggest states in the union be defending this at a time when it is a bloated and dangerous proposition to be kowtowing to the forces of wrong?
S11: I mean, it’s not hard for it wouldn’t be hard for Texas. All risks acknowledged to say, you know, the history of this song is disturbing to an important segment of our student body and alumni base. And we think we can do better as an institution moving forward. If you read through some of those emails that the Texas Tribune got a hold of, I mean, they read like a Fox News segment. They are racist.
S12: Less than six percent of our current student body is black, wrote Larry Wilkinson, a donor who graduated in 1970. The tail cannot be allowed to wag the dog.
S4: Yeah, well, here’s here’s another one. It is sad that it is offending the black. I was just going to read that one. Go ahead. Yeah, no, it is said that is offending the blacks. As I said before, the blacks are free and it’s time to move on to another state where everything in their favor. Look, I’m a forty two year old black man from the south. And let me tell you, I know when someone is saying go back to Africa and a highfalutin sort of way, you know what I mean? Yeah.
S11: I mean, are there other emails attacked? The head of the committee, a professor who’s black, suggested that the committee was promoting Marxist ideology, suggesting that this was a product of saying that it was a product of council culture, calling students snowflakes. Texas needs to decide, you know, the University of Texas needs to decide where they stand. Are they in favor of sort of educating these people and saying, we don’t really need your money that badly, world, we’re a better institution than that? Or are they going to capitulate to the forces that would keep propagating this kind of garbage?
S6: Well, I’m glad you said it like that to Stephanie, because, like, we never use this term in reference to this group of people. But I’m just going to go ahead and say it. This is a reflection of a culture of entitlement, right? Boosters, boosters run amuck like these are people that feel that they own the program, that they own a public institution, and that their wishes should be heeded no matter what, no matter who it offends, no matter how many other stakeholders have problems with that, their word must be acknowledged that their wishes must be acknowledged, at least. And this is great for Texas in terms of raising money and keeping the program awash in cash. That’s what makes it one of the wealthiest college athletic programs in the country. Texas has no problem raising money. That’s great, but it’s not great in building a cohesive program, a tight ship with one captain. And that’s how you end up with Steve Sarkisian and not Urban Meyer. Right.
S13: I was going to read one more Josh email from a law school graduate named Steven Arnold, the retired administrative law judge.
S11: He wrote, Your team needs rich donors who love the eyes of Texas more than they need one crop of irresponsible and uninformed students or faculty who won’t do. And here’s the money line, what they are paid to do.
S4: Look, look, this is what I have to say to that. Would you rather appease the next Vince Young or would you rather appease some 70 something former oil baron? Right. Like for you to pretend that Vince Young or Earl Thomas or Ricky Williams were not worth more money than Texas and somebody who wants to write into the school to complain and cut a thirty thousand dollar cheque, like get real, your perception of who who has the value here is backwards.
S12: I guess in fairness, it’s worth saying that we don’t know how the school responds to these people. They could think that these folks are cranks and want to tell them to go F themselves, even though they probably shouldn’t. But I think for the school’s long term future, it does probably make more sense to try to appeal to the next. But the thing that’s so kind of frustrating is that, again, I look at this report, I feel like it was done with care and intelligence, and I just feel like there is a universe that is very different from the universe we’re living in, where there could be a really constructive conversation about this song and maybe a way to keep the song in some fashion if the people that are holding on to it so tightly would be willing to acknowledge its origins and the fact that it’s like changed some over time and has been kind of appropriated by groups that, you know, have very different beliefs than the early folks who sang it at a minstrel show. But there’s just no interest from the Steve Sarkisian of the world, it seems, despite what Sarkeesian might say in the future, like what he said in that press conference, cannot be forgotten or erased.
S6: I mean, Steve Sakichi, who has a black wife, by the way, you know, I mean, like that doesn’t have to mean anything. But it I mean, it’s an interesting footnote in his response to this thing that is that is interesting.
S12: But you don’t see the kind of self reflection that would be required for there to be the possibility of true kind of growth and and change and exclusivity. And so the whole thing just feels like it’s been poisoned. And it is kind of depressing to see the possibilities here feel kind of tantalizing and it just feels like it’s always just going to be out of reach.
S10: Let me ask you guys a question. Is this only a football thing? Is the song after basketball games? Is it everywhere on campus?
S9: The tradition, I think when the donor is right and and correct me if I’m wrong, Joel, it’s about football, like no matter like where and how it is, I think embedded in the university and a bunch of different ways. But it’s really about football and it’s about we want to see the players after the game, sing the song together, like that’s what they really care about.
S6: Yeah, I think that’s a fairly rare representation of it. Did you guys see this tweet from Stephen Godfrey of Baner Society about the situation? Because I think it’s like one of the best ways to sort of sum up like what’s going on in Texas.
S4: The tweet, is Texas confused as to why they’re not Oklahoma is doing an Ole Miss themselves, confused why they didn’t become Alabama all those years ago. Right. Right. Exactly. Yeah, that’s that’s that’s a very deep cut shit right there. But like the bottom line is that Texas has put an artificial cap on itself, like give Texas credit. Who cares far more about its principles than winning football. Oklahoma, I’m sure, loves this. But just keep in mind, Texas has won one national championship since desegregation, OK? And it took one of the best players I’ve ever seen in my life to make it happen. They’ve won seven conference titles in the last 40 years. OSU has won six straight titles, just big. It was just itself. So, you know, Texas is clearly OK with living like this. Like this is what this is important enough to them that they’ve made it an issue and that they hired a guy in part because he said that I will defend the honor this song, like I’m going to make the players stand up and and stand at attention for it after the game. And that clearly was more important to them than bringing in to the wooing Urban Meyer, who might have turned them into something other than Oklahoma’s, you know, stepchild, essentially.
S14: On April 15th, 1985, Marvelous Marvin Hagler is full legal name for Thomas Hearns in a boxing ring assembled on the tennis courts at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas. It was Hablas 11th defense of his middleweight title. Hearn’s had moved up after winning welterweight and light middleweight belts. Both were known for their punching power, and they came to the fight with the same strategy to brawl the first round of Hagler. Hearns is considered one of the most relentlessly savage three minutes in boxing history. It’s like something out of a Rocky movie, Hagler and Hearns, through a preposterous one hundred and sixty five punches combined, Hagler was bloodied hands that would turn out broke his right hand hitting haggler on the back of the head. Both men were staggered. The fight couldn’t possibly last much longer, and it didn’t. Haggler won on a technical knockout two minutes and one second into the third round. Let’s listen to the call from Al Michaels and Al Bernstein.
S15: Another right hand taken to the right here is in deep trouble. Again, he’s down on the third round and on his back. And he’s going to be basic here, I don’t believe hard to try to get to stop this fight. Does he get up? He just he can’t continue. It has our foot off the line, but no doubt. And painting as they get into the third round after her ankle on a first round knockout, it didn’t go very far, but it was a beauty.
S14: It’s haggler full of blood is a great call. Marvelous. Marvin Hagler died on Saturday at sixty six. Joel, I’m old enough to have watched what was maybe the last golden age of boxing Hagler Hearns, Roberto Duran, Sugar Ray Leonard. They all had distinct styles and personalities and they all fought each other. But my God, Hagler was terrifying and indomitable. What struck you watching the Hearns fight?
S4: Well, it’s funny you said it’s haggler full of blood because that was like that’s such a great line. I mean, you could see how, like, Al Michaels is a legend in the game. Right. Another thing is that, OK, so my whole life I’ve known that Marvin Hagler was a middleweight. I know that middleweights and not big men, but it’s still never registered to me that Marvin Hagler wasn’t like the sound of Myles Garrett, you know, I mean, like he was five foot nine and 170 pounds. Like, that’s like Tarik Cohen are like something about you a little bit smaller than Tyreek Hill. But his reputation and name are such from that fight that I just assumed size for him. Right. Like one hundred and fifty nine pounds wasn’t it. Yeah. Right. Like I mean he’s, he’s a small dude, you know what I mean. But like you, just because of that fight, because of his reputation, you would think he was a much larger man. Right. But no, he’s he’s a middleweight. He’s not a huge guy. And it was one of the rare prize fights where the boxers, like, they hated each other. And I’d wondered if there was some sort of backstory to that night that maybe I hadn’t read or something that we weren’t privy to. And then I saw one interview online from 2014 where Haggler said he didn’t like me and I didn’t like him. And so I dug a little bit more. And it seems like this all stems from a fight that got canceled in October of nineteen eighty two when Hearns called off their fight because he had a hand injury and Haggler was pissed and he accused him of turning down two million dollars and complaining about his baby Pinky.
S6: So for a guy that like fought everybody and took immense pride in fighting everybody and going through them and for her to sort of back out, I guess I could see how that might have inspired some enmity. But like, just you usually don’t see two great fighters, Josh, like. Engage in a brawl at that level of fighting, right, normally it’s a little bit more subdued. It’s the sweet science, but like that was not that at all.
S9: Yeah. Later we’ll get to it. But this was totally different from that. Hagler Sugar Ray Leonard fight from nineteen eighty seven, which ended up being hecklers last fight. And Leonard was like very dismissive of both Hagler and Tommy Hearns and like saying that Hearns was an idiot for getting in and brawling with Haggler like that. And Leonard fought the fight that I guess Hearn’s should have kind of dancing around and getting in there with some quick flurries of combinations and not really hurting Hagler, but scoring points against him. But yeah, in this fight, neither guy was really interested, it seemed like in self-preservation or in. Yeah, just like kind of boxing and and point scoring. It was all about trying to knock the other guy’s head off. And there’s something thrilling about that. There’s something dangerous about it. There’s something kind of scary but thrilling. It’s like the tension of boxing and it’s all really visible there and stuff. And you alluded to this, I guess you guys both did. The thing that really strikes me and thinking about Haggler and what makes him stand out is the luck, the aesthetic the show had like he was like before people shave their heads. He was you know, I’ve heard about like Michael Graham, the Georgetown guy from early and John Thompson’s tenure as being a guy who shaved his head and that, you know, you know, obviously preceding Michael Jordan, but he being a guy that was kind of like an icon for that. But Hagler was a decade before Michael Graham and just the look like, you know, how solid he was, how he did look bigger than he was, that, you know, how he fought left handed for me, I guess, you know, being younger and sort of hearing about him a little bit more as a legend than somebody that I watched in real time. There’s a certain way, Stefan, in which, like when I think of a boxer, I kind of think of Marvin Hagler and what I think that like and what he did, he’s like a computer generated version of what a boxer would look like.
S13: Right. And his back story kind of is to Joel. You know, he grew up in the in the sixties, late 50s and 60s.
S14: His mom took the family out of Newark, New Jersey, after the riots in 67 and 69 there, moved up to Brockton, Massachusetts, with some relatives, drops out of school and so that he can box and he’s taken under the wing of these two, you know, these two boxing promoter guys that also run a construction firm. And Haggler works for the construction firm. I mean, there’s like a rocky element or a Rocky Marciano element. It’s the same hometown as Marziano. And Haggler was sort of a local brawler, a local fighter in Massachusetts. And then he moves to Philadelphia. He doesn’t really get his chance after he turns pro and it takes him like six or seven years and a bunch of fights before he gets a crack at the middleweight title.
S6: I think about this just reading about him in the last few days, which is always fascinating, like whenever just a peek behind the curtain, everybody, like whenever we decide on a topic and we share these articles with each other and whenever it’s boxing, it’s like all of these great, you know, long profiles from the eighties, from Sports Illustrated with William Nack and like Rick Reilly. And he’s like these great stories about boxing that you don’t really see today because people don’t care about boxing like that. But also, I’ve also Sports Illustrated isn’t what it was either, but it was just so clear and reading about this stuff and watching some of his interviews that Hagler was frustrated that he sort of never ascended to the level of fame and popularity of Sugar Ray Leonard or even Duran and Hearns, you know, like him changing his name to Marvelous wasn’t just because it was his nickname. He was pissed the TV announcers wouldn’t use his nickname. So he was like with I legally name myself Marvelous Marvin Hagler. The announcers are going to have to say it. And his reasoning was actually sort of sound. He said, well, they say Sugar Ray, that’s not his name. So why won’t they say my name right into your point about how he was just like a local brawler? Like, I guess I did not know a lot about Marvin Hagler before this because he didn’t win a title until his thirty seventh professional fight. He was already thirty three, two and one at the age of twenty three. That’s absurd. Fighters don’t fight like that anymore. They don’t fight that much. I mean so like he was just sort of a grinder who happen to have been incredibly talented and turned himself into a boxing phenom, an icon just through like his relentlessness, the fitness as we saw in that fight against Hearns, but like it wasn’t meant for him in any other way. And that’s why that fight was useful in elevating him. He’d like it like that fight he won and it elevated him. But it meant something. It was like Ghadi Ward or like Ali Frazier one, you know what I mean? Like the fight took on some larger significance. It means something when you say guys are fighting like Hagler and Hearns.
S16: And that just elevated him in a way that none of the rest of his career was ever able to before, that a lot of times we hear athletes and teams talk about being underestimated, but they don’t really mean it. It’s a kind of motivational ploy that’s almost empty at this point just because it’s said every day and every week by every everyone and every kind of context. But Hagler was a guy who believed rightly that he was underestimated and he legitimately used it for motivation. And so I don’t think we should look at the fact that that kind of self talk and that kind of it’s become a cliche. We shouldn’t allow that to, you know, move us off of the sense that this actually did define him and motivate him and define his career in a sense. I mean, he had to turn pro and wasn’t able to maintain his amateur status long enough to make it to the Olympics. And he was very jealous of guys like Sugar Ray Leonard, who used the Olympics as a springboard for fame, like he had to just turn pro and start making money. And so he wasn’t able to have a career like that. And it meant that, like you guys said, he had to grind in Boston and Philly fighting every couple of months to try to build his name and to try to do so unsuccessfully. You know, felt like he got jobbed in various ways, both outside the ring and in the ring, and was indomitable, maybe because that’s how he was and maybe because he had no choice, like he just needed to keep going.
S13: Yeah. And and I think that the notion that Haggler felt he was underappreciated was sort of chip on the shoulder motivation. But it was also borne out by the early opportunities that he had to win the title and become, you know, a name mean. His first title shot was in nineteen seventy nine against Vito and to Famo and Haggler beat the shit out of him and it was ruled a draw, the referee says to him before the judges announced the verdict. Congratulations. Now stay facing this way until they announce the decision and I raise your arm Drago’s to the title holder antifa mo captus. The referee doesn’t get a vote and not going to vote. Sometimes referee gets one and then in nineteen eighty when he wins the title he destroys this guy, Alan Minter of Britain and the crowd turns on him because it’s Wembley Stadium in London and they’re throwing debris and bottles into the ring and he doesn’t get the adulation in the moment that a title winner deserved.
S4: He was very upset about that and I heard him talk about that. And in an interview later, he said, you know, I didn’t get that moment that everybody when you become a champion, you get that moment, they give you your title, you raise your fist and it means something. And that’s something a fighter remembers for the rest of their life. And he was denied that.
S11: And also, you know, he had to be he had to be escorted out of the ring by cops.
S6: Right. And also, you know, there was a racial subtext to the eliminator fight that element or had said something along the lines of, I’m not going to let that black man beat me or take my titles. So, you know, there was there was some other stuff going on there, too. And then, you know, I just it’s sort of in some ways, it sort of reminds me of Hank Aaron, right? I don’t know. Maybe this is just not an appropriate analogy. But like a guy who was great for a very long time but was sort of outshone by all his contemporaries, you know what I mean? Like Hank Aaron never got to be Willie Mays. He never got to be, you know, Jackie Robinson or whatever. Right. Like, he’s not remembered in quite the same way, but through sheer virtue of like their workmanlike approach to the to their craft and like their undeniable greatness, they turned themselves into legends.
S4: But like it was it meant for them to be that they didn’t necessarily have the personalities or the like, you know, the machine behind them. But you could not deny them their greatness. And that’s ultimately what makes them stand the test of time. Like it didn’t have to be about height. You know, they didn’t need it. They ended up taking taking the fame for themselves.
S8: Yeah, I think that’s actually a good analogy. And I think the two things that distinguish Haggler and don’t quite fit in there are that he does have that stand out, you know, ten minutes against turns and the way that, like Hank Aaron never had the season where he had sixty home runs or something. Haggler does have that one time when he was the kind of he he had that career defining flurry. But also Haggler was the champ for five years and beat all comers and did have his moment, even if maybe he wasn’t as famous as Sugar Ray Leonard. I think he was acknowledged by the world as the greatest as the champ. And so he had that time. And the thing that I find the most fascinating about him and the most surprising. Both knowing who he was, but also just knowing the history of boxing is that he lost this fight to Leonard and I think there is a dispute. I don’t think it’s clear that Haggler got jobbed, but I think it was like legitimately a close fight and you could go either way. But he lost to this guy who he felt like was not his equal, who he felt like was this pretty boy who he felt like didn’t try to fight him, who he felt like it outshone undeservedly for his entire career. That’s the recipe for a rematch. Like what fight was, like, better primed and set up for a rematch, both in terms of like fans wanted to see it, both in terms of like both fighters wanted it to happen in terms of the money that would be available. And Hagler was like, you know what, I’m done. And he stuck to it.
S6: Well, wait, wait, wait, hold on. Because Sugar Ray, he did want a rematch and then Sugar Ray dawdled. Right. And in fact, he was like, forget this, I’m done. I’m not doing it anymore. But he wanted a rematch from from Leonard. And Leonard didn’t want to give it to him.
S8: Yeah, but it’s a it’s definitely a fight that would have happened eventually if Haggler would have wanted it. And he everything that we know, I think Stefan I mean, like Joel like I’ve learned more about Marvin Hagler in the last 48 hours than I knew in my whole life. And I’m glad that I did.
S9: But everything that I think we know about Marvin Hagler, if you would have erased my memory and said and asked me after reading all that stuff, you know what would happen, I said 100 percent he would have fought Sugar Ray Leonard and he just moved to Italy, moved on with his life, said, I’ve got money and I’ve got my health. And like, that’s an amazing thing that that that happened.
S13: Eric Rick Callander did a piece in nineteen ninety four Sports Illustrated on Haggler and caught up with him in Italy. And there are a couple of quotations in that piece that are real that really do stand out and demonstrate how Marvin Hagler was a perceptive and rational boxer. He you know, he he on the one hand recognize that he was supporting his trainers and others who had a stake in him continuing to fight. But he also stood up and said, I just want to do this anymore. I’ve got you know, I just read this one quote, Haggler said, God, I wanted to beat him so bad. Meaning Leonard, you know that Pat. He’s talking to one of his trainers. But for now, for the first time in my life, I’m happy with myself. I’m retired. I considered the fifteen million, but it didn’t come close to changing my mind financially. I’m in good shape. My health is good, my brain is good. One more fight and you never know what might happen. I’m not going to win an Oscar, but I’m getting better in five years. Maybe I could be a world known actor. That didn’t happen. But he did make movies in Italy and stayed there for for several years before moving back to the States. And then in that same piece, he also says this. I saw Joe Lewis at the door at Caesar’s Palace just shaking hands. And that left a bad taste in my mouth. Then I saw Jersey Joe Walcott doing the same thing in Atlantic City. Great champions. That keeps me moving. Meaning he didn’t want to end up that way. He didn’t want to end up on old addled boxer having to greet people at the front of a casino. He wanted to have a life.
S4: No, that makes a lot of sense. I mean, he had as we as we acknowledge, as Josh said earlier, I mean, you have to look for something. He looked like somebody that should be famous in or outside of a boxing ring. And, you know, there was this movie. He was in a series of movies called Indio, which I believe the SEC, the sequel was about somebody going into the Brazilian rainforest of the Amazon rainforest and helping natives to stave off lumber companies or something like that. But we look we can just play a brief clip of the trailer for Indio, too.
S17: He has all the action of Rambo, all the power of commando. The world has to know what’s happening here. It’s the thrill packed feature action fans are waiting for. I want those. Indio’s marvelous Marvin Hagler returns from the original video. But jungly, shrinking sometimes to do any good, you got to be sure there’s no turning back.
S4: Boxing superstar Marvelous Marvin Hagler is back. Charles, left wing environmentalist, tree hugger. Laughing Marvelous, marvelous. Marvin Hagler, you know, fighting to keep the the rainforest pristine. Right.
S5: I felt a little bit lost having not seen India one, but I kind of I kind of got the idea.
S4: Yeah, well, you know, they said it it had all the power of Comando. And I can confirm the Commando was a very powerful movie. I was one of my favorite movies growing up with Arnold Schwarzenegger and Raiden Chong, by the way. But yeah, I don’t I can’t compare it to Rambo. I didn’t see Rambo. It clearly it’s a you know, I mean, that’s what he left boxing to go do right there. So I don’t have I I have a little bit more of a dim view of his retirement because it didn’t. I, like he said he he wasn’t going to win an Oscar, and that’s for damn sure.
S10: I don’t know, man. He made 40 million bucks. He went to Italy, live there for a few years, made a couple of movies. Seems pretty good.
S4: Oh, that mean look, I can’t knock that hustle. It’s a lot of fun. I just you know, the second chapter wasn’t quite live up to that first one.
S3: Now it is time for after balls and let’s celebrate one of only two boxers to fight Marvelous Marvin Hagler three times and one of only two boxers to fight Marvelous Marvin Hagler and be named Sugar Ray. Sugar Ray Seale’s was the only American boxer to win a gold medal at the 1972 Olympics in Munich. He beat Bulgaria’s Angel Angel of a good name. Seale’s was undefeated, going into his first fight against Haggler, which Seale’s lost by unanimous decision in nineteen seventy four. They fought again three months later, kind of in the typical cadence of Haggar’s career. This time it was a draw. The first time Haggler had left the ring without a victory as a professional third fight came a little more than four years later. This time, Marvelous Marvin won decisively by TKO. In the first round they would get together again in nineteen eighty four, this time for a benefit for SEALs who nearly lost his eyesight in the ring again like Sugar Ray Leonard, who retired for a long time because of a detached retina, according to an article by Chris Benedict on the website The Grueling Truth That Benefit for Sugar Ray SEALs and Seattle featured not just Haggler, but Muhammad Ali, Ray Boom-Boom in Larry Holmes, Michael Spinks and Sammy Davis Jr.. Alas, it was poorly attended. The whole thing lost twenty six thousand dollars. Oh, that is so sad. Good Lord. Happier news, though. Seale’s still around. He’s alive. His vision is better now. He’s coaching boxing in Indianapolis and reportedly wears his Olympic gold medal around his neck everywhere he goes.
S4: You know, that would too. I think Joe’s wearing his. Aren’t you wearing the medal for the fastest ten year old? No, I don’t have it. I don’t have it with me at the moment. But I have I do have a certificate that I can show if anybody wants it. Proof about how it went.
S3: Let’s not lose focus here. Sugar ECLSS. That’s who we’re paying tribute to.
S14: Stefan, what is your sugar sales on our bonus segment last week for Slate plus members. And if you’re not a Slate plus member, you should become one. We talked at length about Joel’s basketball slang pack, meaning a blocked shot. Josh and I, you’ll recall, were unfamiliar with the term from our childhoods in New Orleans and Pelham, north of New York City, respectively. I played pickup into my thirties in Brooklyn, never heard back. I asked some of my college buddies who grew up in Long Island, Connecticut, New Jersey, Philly, no PAC. But listeners confirmed that Joel down in Houston was not alone. We received PAC sightings from pretty much everywhere except the Northeast. And then listener Pete Zambito, a music professor at the University of Missouri, wrote in to say that in his home town on Long Island, Locust Valley, quote, This was definitely a term used. And he confirmed that PAC meant to push a shot back into someone’s hand. One of the challenges in tracing the history of slang is that it’s often passed on orally and sometimes doesn’t make the transition into mainstream print media. In the case of Packed, I found plenty of hits on Twitter for Pat.
S11: His shot and shot got packed, but a search of a couple of big newspaper databases turned up only a couple of examples. Both were from two thousand eight. The first was from the Arizona Republic, which asked a high school baseball player named Jake Saylor for his most embarrassing sports moment. I was playing basketball when I was nine and took the last shot to win the game, but got packed, he said. The ball hit me in the nose and made it bleed classic pack. The second example was from a middle school basketball player in Bradenton, Florida, named Alexis Stout. She scored eight points in her team’s twenty two to twenty championship win and defended the game tying attempt. I just tried to stay with her, Stout told the Sarasota Herald. I almost packed the shot when she let it go, but I missed it. Joel’s new friends, Jake and Alexis, welcome to hang up and listen. Then we got an email from listener Steve Webster. Steve traced packed to a different sport volleyball specifically to the International Volleyball Association, a coed pro league from nineteen seventy five to nineteen eighty in which Wilt Chamberlain played a season. Steve explained that the league adopted the verb to six pack because men on the teams decided to give a six pack of beer to anyone who spiked the ball so hard that it hit a woman in the face. OK, I’m sure the women athletes of the International Volleyball Association love that, Steve said the shortened form pact would come to mean hitting any defender in the face. The first print citation that I found for Six Pack was indeed a. Feature about the International Volleyball League in the L.A. Times in nineteen seventy five, the male idea players still not quite used to the mixing of the sexes, have decided that if a guy smashes a girl in the face with the volleyball, he scored a six pack, Dwight Chapman wrote. In other words, he’s awarded a six pack of beer. I’m going to pause here to say that the male players response to not being used to the mixing of the sexes was to assault the female players. This was not a healthy lead, the beer requirement and six pack and would be dropped, but the term stuck. University of New Mexico freshman volleyball player Mindy Hale loves college, went the lead and the Albuquerque Journal in nineteen ninety. The other day she got six packed. No Mom, she didn’t drink seventy two ounces of beer, but the effect was about the same. A sort of numbing of the brain, a little casual brain injury action there. I didn’t find any citations for the clipped packed in volleyball, but the transition seems obvious. She got six pack, he got packed. It also makes sense that the term could have migrated from volleyball to basketball. Adaptation is a very common thing with slang, and in this case, it’s logical, tall people smashing a ball in a downward fashion. So back to basketball. Props to Pat. But my term of art for a block that doesn’t leave are barely leaves. The shooter’s hands stuffed is way more prevalent in the databases. I found dozens of examples, the oldest dating back to nineteen fifty four in a piece in the Salt Lake Tribune about a high school basketball game. Paul Manlove, the six 10 Montana giant, hit for twenty four points in the fray and probably saved ten more points. He stuffed several shots up into the bleachers after the ball had left the hands of E shooters. If you want to quibble and say that’s more of a conventional blog kind of stuff, here’s a report from a high school game in nineteen fifty six in Nebraska. Ragi was guarding the bucket and several times stuffed short shots right back down the throats of the shorter warriors. That is an excellent citation right there. You can visualize exactly what happened. And then there’s this one from the Louisville Courier Journal. In nineteen seventy. At the last possible moment, McDaniels stuffed the shot back at Stringer and got a jump ball call from the official again. Contextually, you really couldn’t ask for more. An AP photo caption from a nineteen eighty bucks Celtics game read Milwaukee Bucks Bob Lanier is stuffed on his shot by Kevin McHale of the Boston Celtics. I’m fouled by Robert Parrish. The photo shows a textbook stuff McHale’s hand on the ball as Lanier attempts to shoot. There are plenty of examples, Joel, from more recent times. Michael Holly of the Boston Globe writing in nineteen ninety eight about Kenny Anderson, Jim McIlvaine stuff to shot right back in his face and I heard Tom Spruced of the New York Times reporting in two thousand that Stephon Marbury drove to the basket and was met by the fellow All-Star Glenn Robinson, who cleanly stuffed his shot. Here’s a good one from twenty six from Jonathan Feigin of the Houston Chronicle. With Yao Ming going up for a dunk, Nate Robinson, who appears much shorter than the height, listed Yao above the rim and stuffed his shot with spectacular authority and one more, a recent one from a twenty nineteen Washington Post profile by Candace Buckner of Mo Bogner of the Wizards.
S14: If last year rocked his self belief, Wagner hasn’t showed it, Buckner wrote during a recent practice, he trapped Rui Hachimura in a bad position beneath the rim and stuffed his shot twice. After sending the second one out of bounds, Viognier barked at the rookie. Give me that shit. Which makes me wonder about the use of shit or weak shit or get that weak shit out of my house in basketball.
S4: But that is a etymology for another day where you certainly met the moment here stuff. But I and I appreciate your attempt to assert your North-Eastern supremacy. Tannous. This is pure data, you’re told, but I’m not an attempt of stuff. I mean, given its origin, that’s some George mechanise terminology right there. I mean, Bob Pettit, Bob Bob Pettit, level s talk. Oh, you got stuff. I mean, OK, great. I mean, really captured a moment. It was Zite guys there in the 80s and early 90s. And I think all my kids understand that that’s that’s the preferred term for us.
S11: You know, it is also true that the coolest slang does not migrate to the mainstream. So there you go.
S2: With that having been satisfactorily adjudicated. That is our show for today, our producer this week, because Margaret Kelly, listen to Pasha’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. Please subscribe to the show and read and review us. Podcasts, podcast, it helps us out. Don’t you want to help? I think you do. For Joel Anderson, Stefan Fatsis and Josh Levine remembers OBD and thanks for listening.
S18: And now it is time for our bonus segment for Slate plus members. On Sunday afternoon, Saints quarterback Drew Brees confirmed what everyone suspected. That is 20th NFL season and his 15th in New Orleans would be his last. The forty two year old Brees is the league’s all time passing yardage leader, his second all time in touchdown passes, and he’s also second in career completion percentage. Trivia question.
S4: Do you know who’s first in career and completion percentage on Kirk Cousins? It seems like a guy who throws a lot of short Alex Smith. I don’t know.
S18: The answer is by one tenth of one percentage point.
S4: This Sean Watson really the the soon to be former Houston Texans quarterback Drew Brees came to the Saints the year after Hurricane Katrina.
S18: He led them to their only Super Bowl title in 2010. Before Brees got there, the Saints had the third worst winning percentage of any franchise while he was in New Orleans. They had the fourth best record in the league. And so my feelings, what I vote for Drew Brees, when and if he runs for office, unlikely to be respected as a commercial fisherman. Do I want to buy all the products in LA? So it’s not really that he make my favorite team good and fun for a very long time. He sure did. And kind of what more can you expect from an NFL quarterback? He he exceeded my expectations and his tenure in New Orleans and I’m grateful he was a saint.
S10: So we want to play the video of of Drew Brees children announcing his retirement. And I think it’s worth noting that Drew Brees children have quintessentially 21st century names, Baylen, Bowen, Coulon and Rylan. Oh, wow. That’s interesting. All right, here we go. Let’s listen.
S19: After 15 years, the Saints in twenty years, the NFL are finally going to retire. So, yeah.
S11: Josh, that is so wholesome as breathe children, you know, let me just play with them.
S4: What are you going to do when he runs for office as a Republican congressman out of Jefferson Parish? Ask me if I live in Jefferson Parish. He lives in New Orleans. In the city. I did not know that. OK, we used to call the district. OK, any questions that you have about. Yes.
S3: That’s already asked and answered. I said I’m not going to vote for him when he when he runs. But I just was wondering, you know, just wanted to dig in a little bit more.
S18: I think that to understand. Why I feel the way that I feel like the Katrina stuff can get can be a little bit much, but like genuinely it seemed like the team was going to leave the city after Katrina. There was talk about them moving to San Antonio. It was you know, there were other things happening in New Orleans during and after Katrina that were more devastating. But the team is incredibly important to the city and everyone who lives there. And so that was like a pretty tough blow and thing to think about. And they were really bad that the Katrina year, too, there were three and 13 and Brees came in coming off the shoulder injury in San Diego. There was even some speculation that he wouldn’t be able to play at the start of the 2006 season. It was a really bad injury. And Sean Payton was a new coach. He’d never been a coach before and they were instantly very good and went to the NFC championship game that first year. And Brees also has legitimately cared about the city and done a lot of philanthropic and charitable things in New Orleans, both directly related to Katrina and otherwise. And so no matter what he said and done in the years since, and especially around the stuff with the anthem, like criticizing Colin Kaepernick when Kaepernick first kneeled and then later saying all the B.S. about you’re not supporting the troops, if you’d kneel for all that like that was hard to hear and listen to. There’s also the stuff that he did for the city and how he came in after Katrina that I have not been able to forget and won’t forget.
S11: Yeah, and you’re not even like assessing just the football. I mean, the football story is really good. He’s really good. And that’s the back story is really compelling. I mean, six feet tall, small, wasn’t recruited by colleges before. He ends up at Purdue, gets drafted in the second round and through all of that ends up being a first, you know, instead Hall of Famer with a Super Bowl win and an amazing statistics. I mean, it is a pretty great sports story period especially. And also with the injury that you alluded to, Josh. Right. That was like a crazy bad injury. I’m reading this ESPN story about the retirement, which says that James Andrews, the surgeon, said that his recovery was the most remarkable of any athlete he had ever treated. A 360 degree labrum, tear and rotator cuff damage to needed 12 anchors to fix.
S18: Nick Saban, who is the coach of the Dolphins, didn’t want him. They decided they didn’t want to sign him because of that injury. And if, you know, Brees had gone to Miami with Saban, like the entire history of pro and college football would be different, probably.
S20: Yeah. It’s really hard to kind of understate the reputation of the Saints before Drew Brees and Sean Payton got there, like they were most notable for their fans wearing, you know, bags over their heads in the stadium.
S6: You know what I mean? Like, that was like that was the the Saints were like a punch line in the NFL and he turned them around. But you know what else is really impressive about Drew Brees that gets lost? Because obviously he played twenty years in the NFL and he was great and is going to be considered one of the best quarterbacks ever play in the NFL that he may produce a winning program like that’s no small feat, like he led Purdue to its only Rose Bowl appearance in the last 60 years. You know what I mean?
S20: Like, that’s that’s like that’s how good he was a guy, the Texas A&M and Texas. He lived right around the corner from Texas.
S6: Basically, he went to school in Austin Westlake, which is produce Nick Foles and Sam Erlanger, who’s the University of Texas starting quarterback. Now, like he’s right down the street. Those schools don’t want him. He has to go to Purdue and turned Purdue into a winner, which is like that’s probably more impressive than turning the Saints into a way to be right. When you say I mean, like what we just Purdue ever done, you know? I mean. So, yeah, I mean, just the thing about him to kind of close that off is that Brees is a testament to how situation and fit are critical to development. Right. Something we don’t often think about when players don’t live up to their expectations or whatever. We think their expectations should be like the Chargers. We’re really going to get rid of him like they were. You know, they had already started to move on and get Philip Rivers. He found a place in Purdue with Joe Taylor, was running basketball on grass and like that, fit his system and fit the way that he was able to play. So, like, it may have not worked out for Drew Brees, but not for these good fits that he found in his career.
S20: And I just just sort of reminds me that, you know, sometimes, like, that’s the only thing that matters, you know what I mean? Like sometimes like finding the right coach, finding the right program that believes the. You can, you know, really help you out in ways that we would we can’t even begin to think about because it seems so evident, right?
S8: Yeah, it’s a good point. And I think that the tail end of his career, where he was still really good NFL quarterback and the Saints had really good teams, but he had those really notable playoff losses and also his arm strength was pretty compromised. Feel like people have forgotten that he could drive the ball down the field and throw deep. And he wasn’t just like a screen pass guy. I mean, the ones he’s accumulated a whole bunch of stats, but the one that I think really is the most important to think about when you’re thinking about his greatness, is that total QPR, whatever, it’s not the be all and end all. But this was like stunning to me that since ESPN invented that kind of all encompassing quarterback stat in two thousand six, Brees was in the top ten in the NFL every year for years, even like at the tail end of his career and like no quarterback in the league had a streak of even nine seasons and he had all 15. Like, this guy was great and consistent for a very long time and until the last couple of years of his career. Never missed games due date, is he?
S4: Where does he rank among your favorite Saints quarterbacks? Is he before or after John Fourcade when he got back? Aaron Brooks and Archie Manning?
S18: Yeah, Aaron Brooks led them to their first playoff victory. And so Drew Brees will never be able to achieve that. But keep keep them coming. I can take it a break. I’m being a bit tough right now. But it was also interesting to me to see, you know, like when he made those comments about the anthem reading back, I hadn’t remembered how many different people were upset with him about that.
S8: I mean, like LeBron James wrote, like a really long thing about how what he said was ignorant, like, you know, guys on his own team. Michael Thomas tweeted, only he tweeted was a green face that indicated nausea. Hey, the barf emoji. And, you know, Malcolm Jenkins tweeted a tearful video. And, you know, when Brees retired, Thomas wrote this like incredibly long and seemingly like heartfelt note about how great his relationship with the Braves was and how much he loved him. Like if he wasn’t sincere about it, I don’t know if he would have had to go on at that at that great of length. But it seems like even the people that were closest to him have kind of nuanced or complicated feelings about him. And I think that, you know, he could be like a good leader and a good guy and a great quarterback and also be, like, profoundly ignorant on something that’s incredibly important. And the fact that he’s now as announced he’s going to be an analyst, a Notre Dame football, and going to be a studio analyst for NBC and football in America. And I think is eventually going to take over for Chris Collinsworth. And like the showcase, the NFL is kind of showcase game in many ways, shows kind of his ability to be like a smooth pitchman and recover from that bump. Maybe I don’t know if he’s, like, changed his mind or changed his views or just like managed to smooth them over in such a way that he’ll be, like, considered palatable by corporate America. But like, he’s a guy, he’s not going to go away, like he’s going to be around for decades, probably like being Drew Brees professionally. And like we’re not going to we’re not going to forget about about him, I don’t think.
S6: Yeah. I mean, the response to Drew Brees is comments after the anthem. We’re like particularly harsh. Like I mean, you know, Malcolm Jenkins told them to shut the fuck up. That’s not something you tend to hear or direct that a guy with the pedigree and the career that Drew Brees has. Right. Like he’s going to be one of the more influential players in the history of the NFL and going in for, you know, obviously he’s still going to be a big part of the game. So for people to have come at him like that, that says something about the intensity of the moment that we were in, you know, last year. But I also think that, like I mean, just to be honest, man, if you’re your black dude in a locker room and you know who dudes are being and like there’s something about, you know, the way a locker room can galvanize you to be friends and cordial with people that you may or may not agree with. And, you know, Drew Brees has the machine of the NFL behind him to write like the quarterbacks are basically industries unto themselves. And so it was never going to affect him as far as I thought. You know, Tom Brady had a mega hit in his locker room and in his locker a few years ago. And it’s kind of like it doesn’t really matter in the context of his career anymore. And I. I think that Drew Brees is going to get that the same benefit of the doubt going forward.
S5: All right, thank you, Slate plus members, for your membership. We’ll be back with more for you next week.
S4: Get more tips from Hilltop. How do we get out of this without you mentioning Paisano? I guess you just did. Well, we’re going to have the rest of you. I mean, he’s the quarterback of the direction. We have we have we’re going to be talking about takes some effort for years to come, Josh. All right. Cutting jobs, Mike, thank you. So.