The Everyone Hates the European Super League Edition

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S1: The following podcast contains explicit language. Hide your children. Hi, I’m Josh Levine, Slate’s national editor. This is Hang Up and Listen for the week of April. Nineteen twenty twenty one on this week’s show. In early, the Irish Times is the second captain’s podcast, joins us to talk about the new Superleague proposal in European soccer. Everyone except the sport’s richest clubs hates it. Also discussed the pile up of quarterbacks at the top of the upcoming NFL draft. And we’ll look at Shriller Fight Club, the upstart promotion featuring the likes of Snoop Dogg, Jake Paul and Evander Holyfield threatening to upend boxing. I’m in Washington, D.C., and I’m the author of The Queen and the host of Slow Burn Season four on David Duke, also in D.C., the proud owner of a George Foster baseball bat. Stefan Fatsis, he’s the author of the book Word Freak and A Few Seconds of Panic. Hello, Stefan. Hey, Josh, I’m just going to let the bat pass by. Are you?

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S2: I could say, you

S1: know, trying trying to have a conversation with you.

S3: Should George Foster is that we’re talking about former Indiana Pacers Senator George Foster or somebody else

S2: man

S1: of the year, Jeff Foster.

S3: Oh, wow. Wow.

S1: George Foster is a member of the 1970s big red, big

S2: red machine, the Cincinnati Reds and

S1: 50 homers in a season and

S2: then played for the Mets. And we’ll be mentioned in my after ball, actually. Yeah, I found a bag of stuff in the garage, old golf clubs, baseball bats, wiffle ball bats. And there was this George Foster model bat in there. And I love it sitting on my desk now. I don’t know how it got in there or where I stole it from.

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S3: You found in nineteen seventy six Sports Illustrated cover in your garage this weekend, basically. Basically sports you go. Hey, Joe.

S1: Hey, Slate staff writer, the host of Silver and they end up going slow, slobbering season six. I just made a way more awkward. That’s a proof of concept that the way that we usually do the introductions is correct. Just wanted to switch it up just to make

S3: sure you keep everybody on their toes this morning. You know, things things are moving around in the sports world, so we have to be able to adjust.

S2: On Sunday, 12 of the richest soccer clubs in Europe, six from England, three from Spain and three from Italy, unveiled a plan for a breakaway super league. The proposed 20 team league would be one of the most lucrative sports organizations ever. It’s already arguably the most divisive. While the league would guarantee its members billions potentially, it also would got European soccer’s most prestigious club competition, the Champions League, undermine the structure, history, allure and charm of the domestic leagues and threaten even the World Cup as we know it. Our friend Ken Early is a columnist for the Irish Times and a host of the Second Captains podcast. He joins us from Dublin, Ireland. Welcome back to the show, Ken.

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S4: Thanks for having me. Stefan, good

S2: to have you back. So if Sunday was crazy, Monday has been downright bonkers. We’re talking in the late afternoon in Europe. We’ve already heard threats not only to bar players from the renegade clubs, from playing in the European Championship and the World Cup, but also more immediately to kick Chelsea, Real Madrid and Manchester City out of the Champions League semifinals, scheduled to begin next week. Before we get to the chaos, can let’s discuss the proposal. Explain briefly how the Super League might work and how it would be a threat to the established order.

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S4: Well, essentially a threat to the established order because it sort of bypasses them. The clubs taking control of the top European competition or setting up their own competition, which they control. So the club so far involved are six from England, including the too much clubs Liverpool and three learning clubs Chelsea, Barcelona, Tottenham, three from Spain, including two Madrid clubs that are going round in Barcelona, three from Italy, including Juventus and the two Milan clubs. And they have announced that in this new league, which is going to be 20 teams, they would be founding members. They’d be joined by another three founding members. Already you can see that kind of gaps beginning to open up in this plan. The idea is for 15 founding members, but somehow only 12 have declared so far. These founding members anyway, would be permanent members of the league and they couldn’t be relegated. They played in every season and the five other teams in the league would qualify by some as yet to be defined process. And they have got a lot of money from JPMorgan or JP Morgan to put together a big debt financing package. So that will get a massive initial payment. And I guess the idea would be they would then proceed to take massive broadcast revenues far in excess of what they currently get from the Champions League, while at the same time playing in the domestic leagues in which the royal. And so that’s basically the

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S1: idea and there’s been talk of something like this, if not exactly this, for a long time. Right. And the conventional wisdom, as far as I know it has always been these are threats that these top clubs want to extract, more television revenue or more privileges as like the super elite cast in European soccer from the Champions League. They want to set themselves apart and they want to guarantee themselves a kind of certain security and financial success that the current structure of these leagues does not absolutely guarantee. Like you can have a bad season and not make the Champions League. Just ask Manchester United. It’s always seemed, Ken, like it’s been a threat and it’s gotten far enough at this point with this plan that this does not seem like they’re just trying to extract concessions. Because if that was the plan, why would you want to make everyone in the entire world angry at you? Like it seems like there’s a version of it where you can kind of move a little bit in this direction without just pissing everyone off.

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S4: It’s not a threat anymore. I mean, what you say is true, it’s usually saber rattling, but this is gone beyond that. They’ve all kind of made a break for it. They’ve they’ve declared this is what they’re going to do. So now it’s a it’s a it’s a confrontation.

S1: And if it doesn’t happen, nobody will forget that they tried to do this like it’s gone far enough that like they’ve they’ve disgraced themselves in the eyes of many just by announcing this plan.

S4: Well, the question is, what is you know, what’s the way back from this? I mean, I think there is I think there is a way back because I think I think it’s it’s quite easy to see this plan collapsing pretty fast. I mean, already the lawyers for the group have written to FIFA and Wave and talking about how they’re going to take legal action to defend themselves, because any that FIFA has threats to put up obstacles to what they’re trying to do threatens basically their their finance grant. You know, JPMorgan wants some of the money if you’re going to create all kinds of problems for it. And it seems as though this isn’t going to work smoothly. So you can see that there are vulnerabilities there. It’s not as though there’s a cast that, you know, this cast iron funding in place. And it’s all sort of it’s all solid in that respect. It could still fall apart. And the fact that only 12 of the 15 have declared 12 of 15 factories, now the three spaces are evidently for Paris and Germany, for Bursey Dortmund and for Bayern Munich. They’re the other three obvious big clubs that would be part of this. I mean, the absence of France and Germany from this is just such a massive it’s crazy. Like I mean, basically what’s happening here is these American owners of English clubs are going, your system is insane. Why do you

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S2: have such a crazy

S4: system where you can’t plan? There’s no security in our leagues. We’ve got you know, we’ve got a certain number of teams in the league. You know, you’re going to be in the league next year and the year after that. You know that. And you can plan and you can act in the long term. Look at what’s happening at Liverpool this season. Right. Liverpool recently, European champions. And last season Premier League champions have had a terrible season and may very well miss out on the Champions League, which would slash their budget dramatically at a point at which they’ve already lost, you know, millions, hundreds, a hundred million maybe already because of the pandemics. It’s going to completely crush their budget and any plans they would have to rebuild. I think John Henry, the owner, is looking at this going, well, this is crazy. I mean, how how can this how can this make any sense? We’ve got to get away from this system where, you know, this kind of snakes and ladders game where you were at any moment, you know, you can have one bad season go crashing out and all your plans sort of come to nothing. So they’re trying to take that risk out of the system. People have tried to bring in an American style system into European football before this. That idea of of eliminating the risk of eliminating relegation, that obviously appeals to a lot of owners. The problem is that while the NFL, for instance, is kind of a rationally designed business, it’s kind of a top down structure, you know what I mean? They you know, they can sort of say, well, if there’s a a region, you know, Phoenix has become a big city that’s put a team in there, you know, for example, where in European football, it’s sort of all grown up. And this jumble organically, it’s not a cartel. It’s difficult to see how you can make it into a rational sort of NFL type structure. If you want to get there. You wouldn’t start from here, right? It’s what is what I’m saying.

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S3: And can you made mention of like football and as the person who sort of coming to soccer late in life, what’s happening here sort of seems similar to what’s been happening in college football in America. Like, for instance, Alabama and Kent State are ostensibly competing at the same division of football. But everybody always knows that that’s more true in theory, that in practice that, in fact, the. Versity of Alabama is a powerhouse, and they have access to all the money in the big bowl games and all that sort of stuff, so for the clubs that are like the Kent State University, if European soccer, like the clubs that aren’t included in whatever the Superleague are going to be, what is at stake for them? Like if they don’t make this, what happens to them,

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S4: the ones who are left outside, it’s going to be cold outside these walls. It’s not looking good for them. This is all happening in the context of a of a European football economy which has lately plateaued and obviously with the pandemic has taken a sharp hit. So we’re talking here about a pie which is suddenly shrinking fast. And this is an effort by the most powerful clubs to grab as much of that shrinking pie as they can for themselves. That’s really what’s going on. Like I mean, for a long time, they’ve been saying we should be getting more, particularly in the Premier League, the biggest clubs in the Premier League. They’re the ones everyone wants to watch. Been saying it’s not fair. The way that the money is shared are pretty equally among the 20 teams in the Premier League. They only want to watch us. You know, we’re playing for we’re paying for Crystal Palace and Sheffield United and all these teams that no one really cares about. And they’re making like a hundred million a year from TV because of us. And they’re riding around in our back getting a free ride. That’s the that’s the complaint that the big teams have been making all along their resentment of this. And the reason it hasn’t sort of come to a head before now is that the pie keeps growing. So the Premier League has always been able to come back to them and say, yes, we hear your concerns about not getting enough of the pie. However, have you seen the size of the pie? It is huge. And so the teams have been having sort of content to go, OK, well, you know, the formula seems to work. Fair enough. You know, I saw, like, the UEFA statement made a reference to, you know, now at a time when solidarity is needed in society more than ever and it’s clear that they were referring to the pandemic and how could you do something as appalling as this in the midst of a pandemic, you know, with everything that’s gone on. But, of course, it’s a pandemic that’s caused this, you know it or it’s like the the trigger. It’s all these clubs, all these these 12 massively rich clubs, mostly very successful. They’re all losing money hand over fist at the moment.

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S1: And they’re using this crisis, Stefan, to do what they’ve wanted to do for a long time. Right.

S2: Right. And I was going to say that this has been building I mean, UEFA and FIFA do not exactly have the solid ground to stand on. These are not sympathetic figures in the devolution of world sport into the playpen of petro billionaires. Look, they invited the Qatari sheiks and Russian oil money. You mentioned Americans. I mean, there are three Americans of the former vice chairman of this super league, Stan Cronk of Arsenal, who is, you know, nobody loves over here, John Henry of Liverpool, owner of the Boston Red Sox, and Joe Glazer of Manchester United, owner of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. And so this notion that there are some high ground for anybody here morally seems specious to me.

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S4: I mean, I sort of agree with you, but the difference between this and previous things that have happened to make the rich richer, which in fairness has been a lot of over the last 30 years, I mean, the formation of the Premier League is an example of that. The formation of the Champions League is another example of that, is that this is the first time that you’ve had a group of clubs come forward and say we are now different from all the other clubs. We are the permanent elite. We are setting ourselves up above everybody else. It’s not a case of we had a good season last season. We’re all in the top competition this season, getting paid the big bucks. It’s like we declare ourselves to be the elect. That’s the way it’s going to be from now on. And you get none of you can do anything to change that. You’re all locked out permanently and we’re all in here permanently. So in that sense, it’s it’s different from anything we’ve had before in European football. I think that a lot of Americans might look at this and go, well, I mean, you know, it’s about time. It’s about time you started doing something. I mean, your system has been great. I mean, I don’t mean just billionaire owners of Premier League clubs who want to make even more money, who want to be able to sell the clubs for more money. I mean, just American sports fans might look at and say, well, clearly it makes more sense to have all your big clubs, you know, across the continent together in one league rather than having them in the defense of these old regional leagues, which are mostly very uncompetitive anyway. People do nothing to complain about how boring they are. So so really, what’s the problem? But that’s another of the problems with this proposal. As I see it, it’s such a small and underwhelming proposal. Like if you look at the NFL, 32 teams in 30 cities in something like 23 states. But this is so now. This is three teams from London, the street teams from London to from Manchester to from Milan to from Madrid, the seven cities in three countries.

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S2: It’s a television

S1: deal. Yeah. This is not about geography. It’s about international footprint. I.

S2: Who are they selling? Who’s the market for this, because that’s sort of saying it’s like they’re alienating the both the the local market, they’re alienating nations by threatening to not let players play for the national team. And I assume that they’re guessing that they can make all of that up in the global marketplace. But it really feels like they haven’t done due diligence here. They didn’t they don’t seem to have lined up any support behind this.

S1: I mean, the thing that I find most telling here is that the supporters, groups of the clubs that are making this move are all offended by it. It’s not like even you might think that the fans of, you know, Chelsea or whoever would feel flattered that they’re in the elite. But they actually are like, fuck this. Like, I don’t we don’t want to be any part of this this group and cloister ourselves off, because I think there is even if it’s phony, like as fans, we want to feel like we’re morally righteous and that we’re on top because of merit and because of rising to the top, because our oligarch on our board. But now we’re going to forget about that, but because our players work the hardest and are and are the best. But you know, Joel, another thing that this reminds me of, it’s like this nostalgia about the Champions League. It reminds me of like the Big East, which was a conference that was created, a super conference for television money out of like nothing. And then when the Big East falls apart, decades later, people are like, oh, the Big East, the glories of the Big East when Georgetown would play Syracuse. And so, you know, the Champions League was the thing that was so crass and that was, you know, just created for for money. But now we’re, like, nostalgic and soft hearted about that. And so these things can can evolve and our perceptions can shift as the next greatest thing comes to take its place.

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S3: I don’t know, man. I know Germany and France are not involved in this, but like for now, if they’re right, if this happened, don’t you think that fans in Berlin or whatever nice are going to be like I still want to see, you know, this league. I still want to see these great players and these great teams go against each other, even if my hometown team isn’t necessarily a part of it, because that’s basically the way a lot of sports leagues work over here already. Right. Like, you know, if you live in Salt Lake City, for instance, the jazz may not be your favorite team. It may be the Lakers or whatever, because you grew up with them or whatever. So I don’t know. But I don’t know, like how provincial Europe is presumably very. But do you really think that fans in Germany and France will be like, oh, this is too small, it doesn’t include us. I don’t want a piece of this?

S4: Well, in in Germany, Germany is a kind of an unusual case among European countries, I think, because the visible football fans, the ones who you see the stadiums are quite political and usually quite left wing and that this sort of against modern football movement is is big in Germany, you know, like this kind of objection to the increasing commercialization of the game. And the reason really why those two German teams, Dortmund and Byron, have not said yes to this yet is that they are fifty percent plus one controlled by their supporters and they know their supporters would be against this on principle. And so I think they’re kind of waiting to see which way the wind blows or be. Leipzig are an interesting example, just the attitude of German fans towards Leipzig, the team owned by Red Bull, Red Bull shouldn’t own a team as far as they’re concerned. So they’re kind of acting as though this team doesn’t exist, even though they’re one of the best teams in the country. Like there’s there’s a real kind of resistance to this. It’s clear that in England at the moment, there’s big initial fan reaction has been really strongly negative on

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S2: what seems like an inflection point to me that hasn’t gotten that much attention in the first twenty four hours of this show. Is the players these these threats, the players won’t be allowed to play for their their countries in the World Cup or the European Championships and whether they would go along with this, I mean, there are a lot of clubs in the world if, you know, if Bayern and Dortmund don’t play along here, maybe players say, you know, I’ll go play for them, I’ll go play for Leicester City, I’ll go play for Leeds. We’ve already seen a few players sort of cryptically tweet. Bruno Fernandez of Manchester United tweeted wrote on Instagram Dreams can’t be bought. Zhao can sell of Manchester City. Also seem to be opposed to this under Herera. Now, with PSG, formerly of Man United also came out in opposition to this. I mean, is there a place for the players to have some leverage here in in tripping this up?

S4: I mean, they can be part of the pressure. They don’t really have any leverage. I mean, they they do and they don’t. I mean, it’s a numbers game, I suppose, with players. You know, Bruno Fernandez is a big player. Players have a tendency to just to say, well, look, that’s not really the. The kind of political machinations that go on at the top of the for this not really my area of responsibility, I’m kind of concentrating on what’s happening in the field. You know, you saw a bit of this recently, I think, with the protests about the Qatar World Cup, you know, the recent World Cup qualifiers because of this campaign that started in Norway to boycott the Qatar World Cup because of all this stuff to do with the migrant workers and the abuse of human rights and so on and so forth.

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S2: But if the players were told you can’t play in the World Cup or you can’t play in the euro, can

S4: they do that? Can you ever really can you do that? Can win the World Cup? I’m not sure they can. I mean, FIFA, FIFA will be the ones who decide that I think the Euros. Yeah, I don’t know. I mean, it’s obviously not something the players players would appreciate, but it’s also something that might not stand up in court.

S1: We’re back to saber rattling at this point.

S4: Yeah, it sounds a bit like that for me. Like I mean, you know, to sort of punish the players for what the owners are doing. I’m not sure

S2: it wouldn’t be the first time in the history of organized sports that the players are punished for what the owners are doing.

S4: No, no, certainly not.

S2: Kennerley is a columnist for the Irish Times. He’s one of the hosts of the excellent Second Captains podcast. Ken, thanks so much for coming back to the show.

S4: Thanks very much. Enjoyed. Enjoyed speaking to.

S1: Mel Kiper Jr.’s latest mock draft for ESPN has Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence going number one to the Jaguars. BYU quarterback Zach Wilson going number two to the Jets. Alabama quarterback Mack Jones going number three to the forty Niners. North Dakota State quarterback Trey Lanse going number six to the Falcons. That runs via a mock trade with the Dolphins. And Ohio State quarterback Justin Field’s going to the Patriots via a mock trade with the Cowboys. It’s not often that we get to fake trades in the top ten of the same fake draft for real quarterbacks. But let’s talk about a real milestone. Quarterbacks have gone one, two, three in the draft before. In nineteen ninety nine, Tim Couch, Donovan McNabb and Achilles Smith got selected in that order. Everybody’s been saying the Trevor Lawrence is the best quarterback prospect in human history, or at least since Andrew Luck. They’ve been saying that ever since Lawrence’s freshman year at Clemson. But all if history is our guide, a couple of these guys are going to be Tim Couch and Keely Smith, and we don’t know who they’re going to be.

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S3: Yeah, and what I remember most vividly about that nineteen ninety nine draft is that Donovan McNabb was booed by the Eagles fans who were mad at the team because they didn’t select Ricky Williams with the second pick of the draft. And in retrospect, that sounds outrageous. They wanted to draft a running back, a position that isn’t even valued that much anymore over a potential franchise quarterback. But at the time, it was easy to understand their reticence. McNabb was a guy who was tabbed to go to Nebraska and play for Tom Osborne and was still sort of known as much of as a Russia is. He was a pastor at the time. So in a lot of ways he was sort of a miracle because black quarterbacks didn’t often get drafted that high with that sort of resume. And you could understand why the Eagles fans were like, who is this guy? Why are we picking him at the number two in the draft? And then, of course, boom, McNabb emerged as the best QB from that draft over Tim Couch, who was the number one pick and had also been the number one QB in his recruiting class in the same way that Trevor Lawrence was. So at the time, Tim Couch seemed maybe not quite like a sure thing like Trevor Lawrence, but he was a guy who had the pedigree that made you think, oh, he’s been good in high school, he’s been great in college, he’s going to be great in the pros. And it didn’t happen for him. And so I think the thing that I took from that the most is that. We need to know as much about the organizations that these guys are going to as we do the players, because we don’t know, like we we don’t know how good quarterbacks are going to be. And it’s really difficult to tell, even after all this time, after all these years, after all the data that they can use to analyze quarterbacks, they still don’t do a great job of figuring it out. But we also don’t know who these organizations are. So Tim Couch played for terrible Browns organization, and that matters. David Carr played for Terrible Texans organization. That’s terrible. Vince Young played for a franchise that didn’t want him. And I still think he got a raw deal. Keely Smith. Yeah, Achilles Smith went to a terrible organization. So I need to know what kind of coach Urban Meyer is going to be. What kind of coaches Robert Salay going to be is Kyle Shanahan. Kyle Shanahan is supposedly a cub whisperer, but nobody really wants Jimmy Garoppolo right now, you know what I mean? So, I mean, we need to know the thing. We need to know more about the organization and the coaches are going to be playing for as much as we need to know who these quarterbacks are.

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S2: Yes, there’s a combination of factors that are here, Joel. It’s not just the organization. Obviously, this is a this is such an imprecise process and the trail of bad quarterback picks in the NFL draft is far longer, of course, than the number of top draft picks who become huge successes. Talk about Trae Lance. You said he went to North Dakota State. So did Carson Wentz and Carson Wentz was drafted in twenty sixteen. Jared Goff went number one. Carson Wentz went number two. You know they’ve had OK NFL careers, right? I mean they’re not terrible quarterbacks though. This past year was not a great one for Carson Wentz. And then look at the quarterbacks taken after them. Paxton, Lynch, Christian Hackenberg, Jacoby, Brissett, Cody Pressler, Connor Cook and oh look who got picked next in the fourth round Dak Prescott. Picking quarterbacks is one of the most imprecise things that goes on during a draft

S1: with Carson Wentz leaving the Eagles. There’s now the amazing fact that no quarterback drafted in the first round from twenty nine to twenty sixteen will be on the team that originally picked them, and they’re good organizations and bad organizations among that crew. And we’re in this kind of interesting spot now, Joel, where as you’ve mentioned, teams are now correctly valuing quarterback and there’s no talk about your guy Najee Harris being number two in the draft, even though he’s going to be a star.

S3: Somebody somebody is going to get a steal in Harris, I promise you.

S1: But yeah. So we’re now in the spot where teams understand that the only path to sustained long term NFL success is having a franchise quarterback. But they’ve still not figured out how to correctly assess who those top quarterbacks are going to be. And so you get this turnover like Sam Darnell was the savior just a few years ago, and now the Jets think Zach Wilson will be the savior. I think what that means is it’s a formula for there being more, quote unquote, busts with more guys being picked maybe above where they should be. And maybe that’s actually a justifiable risk because, again, these teams need quarterbacks if they want to be successful.

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S3: Yeah. And it’s not sort of a franchise defining mistake if you take a guy that high and it doesn’t pan out in quite the same way. Right.

S1: Like if Lawrence doesn’t work out, like it doesn’t really set the Jaguars back. I mean, there’s they’re bad and they’re still going to be bad. I mean, that’s an extreme example, but it’s not like they’re trading their whole draft for years to come to get him.

S3: Exactly, exactly like it used to be. So much more of an albatross if you pick the guy and it didn’t work out. But now you can sort of move off of them before they start their second contract, which would lock you in in a way that would harm the franchise. So it’s much easier for these teams to move on if they make a mistake earlier. I mean, people were legitimately talking about the Dolphins selecting a quarterback in this draft and they just selected, you know, to attack Ovalau just last year in the first round. And he was the guy that was seen as the savior, you know, a few years ago when he was in Alabama. So, I mean, these things are constantly changing all the time. But I do feel very confident, though, that Trevor Lawrence is as good as everybody says he is, that he is, in fact, one of those Elway manning Andrew Luck sort of due to is going to succeed no matter what. Or essentially his flaw is so much higher than everybody else’s that it’s hard to envision him failing when he gets to Jacksonville, no matter what’s around him.

S2: I mean, the only thing that doesn’t change is that. There is constant conversation before every draft about players being savours and maybe, you know, maybe Trevor Lawrence, is that right? Maybe he will be a Hall of Fame quarterback.

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S1: Some quarterbacks do make the Hall of Fame. It is possible it has happened before.

S3: Well, I mean, he doesn’t have to be a Hall of Famer. He could be Andrew Luck. Andrew Luck may not go to the Hall of Fame, but if you’re Andrew Luck, you have to say that’s probably worth the number one pick in the draft, right? Right.

S1: Well well, the big conversation about Trevor Lawrence in the last week or so has been these comments that he made in an interview with Sports Illustrated. Look at Sports Illustrated making this good for them,

S3: saying it was a condescending,

S1: passionate about what I do. And it’s really important to me. But I don’t have this huge chip on my shoulder that everyone’s out to get me. And I’m trying to prove everybody wrong. I just don’t have that, which seems like a totally normal human thing to say, which he then was forced to walk back and tweet, I love football as much or more than anyone. It is a huge priority in my life. Step in now. So stop questioning him now. But no, the Andrew Luck comparison is interesting because I guess on the one hand, he had a really good short career. But I think the Colts are like super pumped that he retired at that age, that he retired. And Luck was a guy who was known for having a bunch of outside interests. And I just I still kind of think back to the conversation we have with John Urschel on this show not that long ago, where I asked him, like, should NFL teams keep in mind when they’re drafting somebody like you who’s like clearly has other things going on with his life and could leave football? And he was like, yeah, I think they should actually keep that in mind that I had, you know, other other things that I could do. It doesn’t affect anything because Jacksonville is still going to take him. So it’s it’s not really it would be more of a conversation if there was some debate about whether he was going to go number one or whether he was that do it.

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S2: Do we have any evidence, though, that Trevor Lawrence has outside interests like Andrew Luck wanted to be an architect or John Herschel wanted to pursue a Ph.D. in mathematics? I mean, this is more just him talking the way, like you said, a normal people would talk like a normal person would talk.

S1: His brother is like a hipster artist. Does that count?

S2: Yeah, maybe he wants to be a hipster artist. Who company should be concerned about that. And, you know, and but, you know, first sales, right. Then, you know, this is really shaping up to be a battle of the chips on their on your on their shoulders because and Lauren says no chip on his shoulder. Kirk HomeStreet interviewed Zach Wilson and said what he liked about him is that he has a chip on his shoulder. He wears a wristband that says prove them wrong. I can’t believe the Jaguars aren’t reconsidering.

S3: Yeah, I mean, yeah, I mean, I guess I mean, the thing is, is that it is part of the narrative of most great athletes that they have that, quote, chip on their shoulder and that they’re motivated by haters and that that they do seem to be overrepresented among elite athletes. But I also think that that’s also part of narrative building. Right. That, you know, they want you to believe that, you know, they invented push ups and that they’re the first person in and the last person out. And we have no way to double check that. Right. Like, we will never know how much their work ethic really plays a role in their greatness if they work out that much more harder than something than their contemporaries. So that’s all the sort of stuff that they’re saying. And Trevor Lawrence, you know, use this opportunity to sort of chip away at that myth around him, his own self, in his own approach to the game. But I don’t know anybody that read that story. And you guys tell me if I’m wrong here. It sounded a little bit like what a twenty one year old would say, like someone who’s fresh out of college, who believes they know a lot of the world and what their response to it is going to be, that he has no idea, like how hard life can be at the age of twenty one in the life that he’s sort of live. Right. So, you know, you can say, oh, football is going to be like this to me and then I’m going to be with my wife forever, like he mentioned in his piece. But I mean, he hasn’t been hit in the face by Von Miller yet, you know what I mean? Like, you know, Myles Garrett hasn’t chased him down and beat him up for, you know, sixty minutes yet. So we’ll see how that how that ages, you know, three years from now. But it sounds enlightened and great right now that, you know, football is not that important. My legacy doesn’t matter. I can take it or leave it. But let’s just check back on that in twenty twenty four.

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S1: The thing that Zach Wilson doesn’t understand is that prove them wrong is just highly contextual. Like what if people are saying he’s going to be great? Does he want to prove that wrong? Like do I need to think about a wristband statement that can stand the test of time? I find Mac Jones tray lance in Justin Fields all like super interesting for for various reasons, like Mac Jones has one of the greatest statistical seasons ever in college football. While basically having every great receiver in the entire sport at his disposal and so how do you evaluate that? Trey Lance has amazing numbers at, you know, already at a school. And so there’s going to be some question about level of competition and then their entire season gets cancelled due to covid, except for one game that they manufacture in the fall as a kind of showcase for him. And so nobody really knows, like you can kind of forecast or which cast anything you want on him. But he is you just don’t really know what he’s going to do against competition. And then Justin Fields, Joel is like the top recruit coming out of high school, leads his team to the college football playoff, has an amazing statistical year. And then he kind of mysteriously drops below these other guys. And you have to question whether race and old kind of stereotypes about can he read defenses and does he come off his first read, whether that’s just kind of racist tropes rearing themselves or if there’s actually some more legitimate reason to doubt Field or you

S2: shared some some quotes from Dan Orlovsky. And Joel, you mentioned the idea of narrative here. And first guy in, you know, work all day, last guy out. And Orlovsky actually expressed concerns over Fields’s work ethic, saying that he was he had heard that he was a last guy in first guy out type of quarterback and he might not have the desire to be a great quarterback. And he walked those comments back. But it’s, you know, again, another constant in predraft narratives and conversations seems to be this one.

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S3: Yeah. I mean, it’s just the sort of thing that almost always happens. I mean, we’re all old enough to remember the time that there was a dispute as to whether or not Cam Newton was the best quarterback in his draft or whether it was Jake Locker and Blake Bortles. I mean, it’s funny, in a recent Sports Illustrated article, they talk about how Jake Lako just walked away from football and didn’t need it. You know, I mean, that he said, oh, I didn’t need football after all. But those were the same concerns that people had about Cam when he came out there, like, oh, maybe he’s just too too much of a showboat and maybe football is not important to him. And it’s funny to see it happen to the guys that, you know, totally escape that sort of narrative. Right. So I think the bottom line here is that nobody really knows what they’re doing. Right. Like, we just sort of guesstimating who these guys are and who they’re going to be. And there’s just no way to know because again, at the top of the segment, Stefan, you said it goes beyond the organizations. You’re right. It matters who’s going to be blocking for them, who’s going to be catching passes for them, who’s going to be calling plays for them. All of that stuff matters. Their own individual talent is a piece of it. But it’s also it’s connected to a much larger organization and all these other issues around them. And like we won’t know if they can succeed on their own until, you know, far

S2: down the line. And situationally, we may never know. We may never know what goes on inside a locker room for a rookie in the NFL. We may never know how his mental makeup evolves during the rigors of training camp. And who’s calling him an asshole who’s being mean to him and feeling that he’s not getting reps in practice or whatever. I saw some of that up close in the short time I was with one NFL team a long time ago. I mean, this goes on in every locker room and training camp, and that’s part of why this is also a crapshoot.

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S1: Yeah. And the let’s just stipulate for the sake of argument that everything Dan Orlovsky said about Justin Fields is true. That doesn’t mean it will be true for his entire life. And so you don’t know whether people will get better, get stronger, get more devoted or any any number of other reasons

S2: be inspired by one of their coaches or other leaders in their life.

S3: Well, I’ll tell you what, I’ll tell you what, when it comes to Justin Phillips, I damn sure would take the guy that’s big, strong, fast accomplished has been good since he was in high school over a dude like Max Jones, no offense, who always is look like the worst athlete on the field. And I mean, it seems to be the best case for him is that, well, he’s not that athletic. He’ll just do what the coach tells him to do. So anyway, go, Justin, go Buckeyes. We’ll see. And coming up in the next segment, we’re going to talk about Josh’s favorite boxer, maybe his favorite celebrity, Jake Paul, who was involved in a boxing match over the weekend. The last time we discussed YouTube star Jake Paul on this show, it was in November after his surprising second round knockout, a former NBA player, Nate Robinson. That fight was the undercard for an exhibition match involving Mike Tyson and Roy Jones Jr., which was ultimately a depressing but nonetheless viral affair. The event apparently did so well that shriller the social media company that promoted the last event decided to do it again Saturday night. But with Jake, Paul is the headliner. The fight card this time. And once again, the main event was essentially a sideshow. Paul knocked out retired Emem champion Ben asking in the first round. But the night was much more about spectacle. CHIRLA staged an hours long concert that included the Black Keys. I don’t know who they are, but I’m sure they’re great. And Justin Bieber, who I do know a little bit, but he’s OK. And they brought in Saturday Night Live cast member Pete Davidson for comedic relief and let their business partner, Snoop Dogg, have his run of the place. So, Josh, we might have gotten a glimpse of the future of boxing on Saturday. Snoop and Shriller are not going away. They’ve already got plans to stage fights involving Evander Holyfield and Oscar de la Hoya. And Jake Paul himself has promised to fight more over the Hill opponents. So do you think this is a viable model for boxing going forward?

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S1: So, Joel, when I said, do we really want to give Jake Paul attention, you made the point that given his like 20 million or however many of his social media followers, he probably doesn’t care.

S3: Just on YouTube, just on YouTube.

S1: It doesn’t make much of a difference to him whether we’re talking about him or not, to which I respond. You make a great point and I’ve been put put in my place. You’re kind of noting that Jake Paul went from being on the undercard to the main event is really telling and revelatory about what Shriller is trying to do here. If this is the future of boxing, it is one in which boxing gets kind of smaller and smaller and smaller and smaller as a piece of a larger kind of entertainment product. And his piece about it, Michael Rothstein of ESPN, noted that the ring itself was literally smaller, it appeared to him, than a regulation boxing ring. And so there’s a long, long history of hype and promotion exceeding the product in boxing. And so if we’re talking about that as context and this is within the history and tradition of this sport, but I do wonder if this is the future, then does that actually portend a future in which boxing, if if it’s like a part of like a popular series, is still kind of diminished in terms of its reputation, even below its extremely low reputation at the moment?

S2: Well, the problem part of the problem is that the the most promoted parts of Trilla right now seem to be people like Evander Holyfield and Mike Tyson and Roy Jones Jr., who are men in their 50s boxing. If you don’t have athletes that you can promote at the top of the sport, that will attract viewers beyond the core audience. For a sport, you’ve got problems. So this is, I think, perceived as a smart end around that people will pay whatever pay per view price to watch Justin Bieber saying. And then if they stick around to watch whoever happens to be on the boxing card. Great. And what that seems to be framed that Rothstein and his ESPN piece and others seem to be framing as the the what to watch is whether they can book real cards and combine them with entertainment and draw both audiences, people that might not be that interested in boxing, but real hardcore boxing fans that care about the current best fighters in the game.

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S3: Yeah, and I mean, the thing is, a real card is something that most non boxing fans are watching anyway. Right. Like, let me just ask you to, like, do you are are you normally in the habit of watching boxing? Like, even if they’re just too real strong boxers that have great reputations and spotless records? Are you all in the habit of watching boxing?

S1: Well, the long kind of history of the sport is that it is extremely impenetrable to casual fans just because the barrier to entry is so high, because everything’s on pay per view, unless you want to pirate a stream or something like that,

S3: or you can watch boxing every weekend on ESPN, you can watch it on one of those Fox sports channels. The thing is, though, is you don’t people don’t typically want to watch a. Random WBA lightweight fight on a Friday night, if it’s not somebody that they’ve ever heard of. Right. And so I don’t see it being a problem for boxing because there’s only a few boxers that the vast majority of the sports viewing public watches anyway, like people usually don’t tune in unless it’s like Manny Pacquiao or Floyd Mayweather or somebody like that. And it takes a long time to build up that sort of reputation. So I think that this is this is actually a sustainable model for boxing. Like maybe they throw in some of the over the hill guys in an exhibition and a social media star on an undercard. And then maybe if they get lucky some day, they can get one of the the champions, a guy like Earl Spence or Terence Crawford, you know, you know, God forbid, if they could ever get it together and get in the ring someday, because that’s a fight that people want to see. And maybe they could top one of these promotions in addition to all this other stuff that makes up an entertaining evening. But it’s just going to take some time. And, you know, I mean, anything that would raise the profile of boxing within limits because I mean, Jake, Paul, as you have mentioned, Josh is sort of an odious person. But anything they can sort of raise the profile of the sport a little bit, I don’t think is necessarily a bad thing. And I mean, what’s the harm in taking boxing out of the hands of guys like Bob Arum or Al Haymond? Right. Like what have they done for the sport or the people that participate in it? So I, I, I don’t see the downside to this, at least right now.

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S1: Yeah. I mean, I don’t think that it would as I said before, it’s not like you can make boxing dirtier or seedier than it already is. Like, I don’t think I think that’s the problem here. But the thriller aspect of this is really fascinating to me. And what the story is, is that you have this company that has an enormous amount of venture capital money, and we’ve seen this across all sorts of fields and industries. And I didn’t actually know this before, like doing research for this segment. But what shriller is it’s like it’s a rival to Tic-Tac. And what they’ve been doing is offering huge amounts of money and equity to tick tock stars in order to get them to use the platform. And you saw some of those tick tock stars like Charlie DeMello on the right.

S3: Yes, it’s about time. You know, the Charlie Amelio is you said it like some of those tick tock stars like Charlie.

S1: Do you do know who that is? Do you?

S3: OK, I do you follow her on?

S1: I do not I don’t I’m not on tick tock but I am in slack where people are discussing these things all the time and I pay attention, I file things away. To the extent that this is a smart play for trailor, it’s that there are many different reasons that someone would tune into this pay per view. Maybe somebody wants to watch Jake Paul, maybe somebody wants to watch Charlie DeMello. Maybe somebody wants to watch, you know, Evander Holyfield when he’s on NACS. Maybe somebody wants to watch Justin Bieber. It’s like they’re not only going in one lane are banking on one particular thing. But I predict that within the next five to ten years, there will be a Netflix documentary about how the people spent a billion dollars and lost all the money. I mean, it feels like a wee work ish type situation here. And Bob Arum, who you name checked before. Joel, whatever you think about Bob Arum, I think he’s probably right in saying these dudes are like massively overpaying. I mean, they had a crew of like 200 people producing the show. Can you imagine how much they paid Justin Bieber to do this performance? I mean, like how many more of these cards do you think we’re going to get until they run it, before they run out of money?

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S2: Well, run out of money or run out of patience. I mean, the thriller people seem to be pushing their approach here as some sort of, you know, disruptive genius idea, the four quadrant approach to boxing with, you know, YouTube stars like Paul and then boxing legends and then actual boxing, legit current boxing matches. They’ve got June 5th Card. That’ll include a lightweight championship fight and then music. So, I mean, why just why stop it? That’s why stop at a quadrant. Why couldn’t it be six or eight or ten things? I mean, it does seem to be a little bit throwing something against the wall and hoping it sticks enough that you get enough pay per view buys to pay for Justin Bieber’s fee and pay Mike Tyson to, you know, go talk on camera or get in the ring.

S1: So. Yeah, well. Company LookSmart, until they run out of money, of course, it’s true.

S3: I you know who’s to say right now? Adrien Broner, who was sort of a Floyd Mayweather wannabe, said yesterday on Twitter that he wanted to leave al-Hamad and Showtime and maybe join one of these credit cards. And the reason was that Jake Palkot allegedly six hundred and fifty thousand dollars. That’s just Jake Paul. That’s not Pete Davidson who was there. That’s not who all the other people that they had to pay that were there. But like right now the money is flowing and people want a piece of it. And they’re hoping, I guess the same with Uber, the same with we work, the same with everything else. I just hope it will eventually we’ll make money someday. It may not be any time soon, but the bet is, is that eventually this is going to draw people’s attention and and for whatever it’s worth, rigged was trending after that, after Jake Paul’s fight on Saturday night. So it did get some attention, maybe not the attention they wanted, but who’s to say it’s rigged a bad word in boxing? Like, sometimes that’s the stuff

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S1: that’s like the where the trends after every every

S2: boxing

S3: match. Right.

S2: I mean, do we know that the money is flowing out? Do we have any sense of how much money is flowing in Tyson’s Trilla match? Drew, what a reported one point six million pay per view buys what seems like a lot. I mean, I think the record is like four point six million for a boxing match.

S1: I mean, Tyson reportedly turned down twenty five million dollars to fight Evander Holyfield in a trailer. Imagine that. That would have done huge business, I’m sure. I mean, they have succeeded, I think, in figuring out how to get attention on social media, however much that translates into a real and sustainable business, we don’t know. But there is there is some kind of intelligence operating here and an ability to capture attention and eyeballs is not nothing. But I mean, Joel, it does seem worth noting, you know, I’ve said repeatedly in this segment you can’t get kind of clear and dirtier than boxing already is. But Justin Paradice, another Tic-Tac star, accused Jake Paul of sexually assaulting her, which Jake Paul has denied. Pete Davidson actually asked him about that on the broadcast. Mike Wallace Davidson asked him about it. Yeah, Jake, Paul’s an odious figure also on Trilla has kind of. Branded itself as a Magga friendly app like Magga friendly alternative to Tic TAC, and it became popular among like people and Trump World and Trump himself posted a video there. And so I think that does fit into the throw everything in the wall and see what sticks like. There is an ethos here that is basically like do anything you possibly can to get attention and to be successful. And nothing that we can possibly do that would make us successful could be bad.

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S3: Yeah, that’s true. I mean, hey, look, you said Magga friendly. Hey, we like college football and that’s the mega friendly sport there is. So, I mean, hell, if CHIRLA wants in on that. Go for it. And as Stephanie would say, and now it’s time for after bawls, so Errol Spence, one of the very best welterweights in the world that we can’t know for sure until he fights Terrence Budd Crawford, one of those super fights that boxing fans desperately want, but probably won’t happen until they’re both well past their prime. His name came up in the previous segment on boxing. We were talking about fake boxers, but Earl Spencer is actually one of the very good ones. In fact, one of the great ones he’s trying to know with the win most recently over Danny Garcia, a very strong welterweight, if I do say so myself. But the old spins broken down, which was a triumphant return from a car accident in twenty nineteen. That really could have ended his career, but looks like he’s healed up pretty good. And so this is a good time to salute Earl Spencer and his greatness and also maybe a call for him to fight Terence Crawford someday so that we don’t have to watch all our fights on shriller. So stuff in What Is Your Arrowsmith’s?

S2: Earlier this month, Ruston Dodd of the Athletic chronicled in nineteen eighty six New York Mets song, of which I had no recollection called Get Mesmerized. Participants included George Foster, Dwight Gooden, Darryl Strawberry, Lenny Dykstra and Howard Johnson. And it was a disaster, which was the point of the story in March

S3: on George Fox. I love this team. Mets are better than the rent machine and the place,

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S2: and that’s my thing. This year we’re going to win the series ring. To its credit, get mesmerized did rhyme filled with terror and Rick Aguilera. The song bombed later that summer as they were running away with the Eastern Division. The team recorded an official track, Let’s Go, Let’s Go, which had a more of a Van Halen vibe and included a cameo by Joe Episcopo, plus appearances by Twisted Sister Howard Stern, Soupy Sales Howland and Tony Bennett, Melba Moore, Ed Koch, Dr. Joyce Brothers and others saying, let’s go, let’s go. That record went gold. The songs were, of course, trying to clone the success of the nineteen eighty five hit Super Bowl shuffle by the Chicago Bears, as did many others in the NFL alone gave us buddies watching you by the Philadelphia Eagles. Can’t touch us by the Miami Dolphins because the blue wave is on a roll by the Seattle Seahawks and the apotheosis of the genre, Ramit by the mid 80s Los Angeles Rams. Let’s listen. I’m a mountain man from West VA. They call me Kirk. And I came to play. I learned long ago the just right you can ram. I’ll be in all night. No. The classic after the Mets piece posted, people on Twitter shared their favorite bad sports videos, andI Glockner mentioned one that I hadn’t heard of, one for the thumb by the San Diego soccers. That’s Soccers. So Seacrest, they played in indoor and outdoor versions of the North American Soccer League in the 1970s and early 80s and in the major indoor soccer league and in other indoor soccer leagues heading into the eighty five eighty six season, the Socceroos had won four straight indoor titles. So one for the thumb, one for the thumb, isn’t any better or worse than any of the NFL or other big league efforts. But there’s something I don’t know, a little less crass and a little more endearing about an indoor soccer team that during its glory days drew between seven and eleven thousand fans per game, recording a terrible rap song and video. Also, some of the players on that team were guys from my soccer loving childhood when I might have attended an indoor game or two myself. One for the film opens with a traffic report about a huge backup before a big soccer game and then cuts to the teams play by play guy Randy Horn, who’s pretending to be a D.J. and narrates the song.

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S3: He said, We ain’t got you down. Do you need a winning ticket for winning the next one? I’m sure a soccer game against Americans

S2: who has done play by play for the San Jose Sharks for twenty years. So this did not end his career. After the intro, there’s the usual roll call of players delivering a personal verse. I’m going to play two of guys that I remember. First comes Julie V, who was born in Hungary, defected at age 18 while playing for the U21 national team and spent almost all of his pro career in the United States, including time with the US national team. It’s important to note that he wore number twenty two and that his last name is spelled V. E three is used to defend. I’ve watched this about 10 times, and the transition to the talking is hilarious, everyone, for some reason he’s rolling a ball on the stomach of a goalkeeper. Also, for the record, that’s how he was introduced by the P.A.. Announcer at games Double Deuce, Triple A. The one and only jewerly, which is pretty good. And then we’ve got Broncho Sagada. He’s a Croatian born Canadian who scored a ridiculous four hundred and sixty three goals indoors, 73 outdoors. Everybody loved him because of his fantastic name. Sigatoka, legendary 20 year career included two years with a team called the Las Vegas Dust Devils of the Continental Indoor Soccer League. Let’s let this clip run from Broncos verse into the chorus for 20 year shots.

S5: Take my Kenny over here and he’ll hit the title Trail to the ground.

S2: There was another legend on that team, Steve Jungle, who racked up 652 all time enduring goals and was known as the Lord of All Indoors, but the soccers were so deep that they sold the jungle during the season to the Tacoma stars, whose GM called it the indoor soccer equivalent of Dan Fouts coming to the Seahawks. Tacoma paid two hundred grand for jungle and gave him a contract worth two hundred grand and one hundred and fifty thousand dollar bonus, real money and indoor soccer. Anyway, you might be wondering if the soccers did in fact get one for the thumb in nineteen eighty six. They did. They beat the Minnesota strikers five to three in game seven of the major indoor soccer league championship series. And not only that, they won another Handsworth of rings five in a row from nineteen eighty eight to nineteen ninety two.

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S1: Congrats to the soccers. That’s great. Congrats on your nineteen eighty six championship. Belatedly. I’m sorry that it’s taken me a while to send the congrats.

S2: We’re the Socceroos. Josh, you’re the fans. We use our feet, you use your hands.

S3: I do hope that eventually people will move past that sort of wrapping. It’s Sunday because I still think that there’s a lot of that. My name is Stephan and I’m here to say, you know, that kind of that kind of style of rapping. And I just people should update their mainframe list a little bit more hip hop because people don’t rap like that anymore.

S1: This is that in eighty six.

S3: Yeah, but but it’s still like whatever people are doing, like, you know,

S1: corporate satire,

S3: I just kind of feel like they, they haven’t updated their understanding of hip hop since.

S2: But do you think that the team rap song should come back at all. Would you like to see that? You know I’m not against it.

S3: It does seem like a much more optimistic, happier time. Didn’t that just make you feel good, you know, to see that? So, yeah, I’m for it if they can pull it off. Yeah, let’s do it.

S1: On that optimistic note, that is our show for today, our producer this week, Margaret Kelly, to listen to Pasha’s and subscribe or just reach out, go to sleep. Dotcom’s hang up and you can email us at and sleep dot com and please subscribe to our show and read and review us on Apple podcast for Joel Anderson and Stefan Fatsis, I’m Josh Levine, remembers MBT and thanks for listening. Now it is time for our bonus segment for Slate plus members and Sopan Deb of The New York Times has a piece out with the headline Why the Worst NBA Player is parentheses probably still better than you? I would question the need for that parenthetical. But, you know, you do hear New York Times headline writers. I do like the piece and the premise. The lead is about Brian Scalabrine, the former Boston Celtics, Chicago Bulls, etc., who at the age of forty three is frequently challenged by people at the gym and destroys them because he was in the NBA. It’s just a good tour of NBA guys that we remember. Michael Sweeney is on their Adonal Foyle is in there. It’s perhaps not surprising to us, Joel, that NBA players are good at basketball, but it is a phenomenon that people, I guess maybe a certain type of person thinks that a certain slice of the NBA is bad and beatable at basketball.

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S3: Yeah, I think that people get used to the idea. They’ll look at a guy out on the floor against LeBron James or Dwight Howard and they’ll see them, you know, not look great in comparison to these, you know, these hyper competitive, hyper, you know, amazing athletes. And they’ll say, oh, well, they pale in comparison to them. They must not be good. But that’s relative, right? Anybody that’s even played against the best high school player in your town knows how insanely talented or should know how insanely talented NBA players are. But a lot of times we just lose perspective in the media news cycle. And, you know, Stephen Smith will call somebody terrible or Skip Bayless will say somebody isn’t clutch. And gradually, you know, you bring these these athletes a little bit lower and then people think, you know what, they’re not that good. And then, of course, we all have sort of this all inflated sense of our own athleticism. And then you get a person dumb enough to challenge Brian Scalabrine at a random court. And Brian Scalabrine is what? He’s six ten. He’s like I mean, he’s huge, insanely skilled and has been working on this his entire life. And, like, there’s just no way there’s no way for you to comprehend how good NBA players are until you’ve been on the floor with, like a bad wind or like a really good college player who never got a chance to make it to the NBA. And then you see, like what the real gap is between us mortals and guys like that.

S2: Yeah, I mean, I think there are two factors that play into this. One is that, yeah, we are conditioned by by people like Skip Bayless to think that some professional athletes, you know, among the four hundred and whatever best NBA players in the world that some of them actually suck. And the second part of it is that we want to believe that we can do things that professional athletes can do, whether that’s kicking an extra point or hitting a curve ball or, you know, making a clutch port at Augusta. We want to bring us up closer to the level of what these extraordinary human beings do. It makes us feel better. It makes us feel less insecure about our own shortcomings and our own mortality mortalities. You know, I’m seventeen and I go to the gym and Brian Scalabrine is working out. Of course, you’re going to say Brian Scalabrine, the end of the bench doofus for the Celtics. You’re how old now? Yeah. Let’s play one on one. And then Scalabrine, he beat this kid. And this is what we’re talking about this because. And why. So Panjab wrote a piece about it is because there was a video that went viral of Scalabrine High School and some kid in Massachusetts to the tune of eleven to nothing and making him bet a pair of sneakers on the game

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S1: stole the kid’s shoes. That’s just mean women basketball players definitely get this worse, right? Weather on social media or in person, just an insistence and a demand that they play one on one. And there’s a quote in this piece from Shion Parker talking about dudes challenging her, saying the same reason why a guy would never give a chance to a source that confidence to come and approach me and ask for my number. It’s the same type of confidence that these people have to even think that they can beat a professional kicking. An extra point is different. Stefen because people and Katie Nolan has done a series about this on ESPN, like just random dudes, they’re like, oh, I could run faster than that guy in the forty year. I could have made the field goal. And they obviously can’t and won’t. And Cardinal embarrasses them. But if you train like you did, you can kick a field goal. Or kick an extra point if you train, you could never in a billion years beat Brian Scalabrine or another NBA player. So there is a kind of difference there. And I think they did have Michael Sweeney, Adonal Foyle are black. But I think a part of this as a racial thing where because Brian Scalabrine is a white guy, I think there’s an and he was it the I mean, he was, you know, legitimately like at the end of the bench. It wasn’t like his he had some moments in the NBA, but it wasn’t like he was, you know, Larry Bird or something. The guy didn’t get like a huge amount of run. But I think there is part of it is like pudgy white guy. Oh, yeah. That guy must suck, I think.

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S3: Many years ago, Kenny Smith of the TNT broadcast and former Houston Rocket wrote a piece for I think it was Slam magazine. I got to figure it out. And it was about this this phenomenon of people challenging, like the end of the bench, white guy in the column. What I remember most vividly from the column, and I think the headline was this dude will give you 50 by that meeting, 50 points. And like, that’s every dude in the NBA. And I would even go so far as to say not only would they give you 50, they would give you a hundred, you know, if you had to play against a guy like that. And we can. Have you all ever played against an NBA player before? Because we talked about this a little bit before, when once I played, I went to a gym, get some run against some guys and playing with guys who played college basketball before, too, they were college athletes. Like none of us are, like we’re bad athletes. But Royal Ivy showed up. And this is right. When he was leaving the University of Texas and going into the NBA, the knock on his game was that he couldn’t shoot. They’re like, oh, yeah, well, he’s got a great outside shooter. And so we’re just thinking, OK, Roy, I love you. Like, oh, we got do you know, just give him the jump shot, you know, and Royal is shooting on us like Steph Curry. Like, it was unbelievable. I was like, oh shit. Like no matter what we do, we had to do that to play college basketball at Wake Forest. And like, we couldn’t do anything with real Ivy. Real Ivy kicked ass that day playing thirty percent. And that’s like with all of these dudes would do give it a chance to feast on us mortals.

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S1: Yeah. I mean, I think the closest I’ve been is going to the two lane jam when I was in high school. And those dudes are just like unbelievable. I mean, anybody who played even a little bit in college, they just don’t miss shots. And I think people don’t realize that. And I guess the larger point here is that it’s one of the few realms of human experience where the levels and gradations of talent are so clear, like in writing or medicine or, you know, anything that’s like either more subjective or more or less visible. Yeah, it’s just like that person seems good and that person maybe seems less good. But like in the NBA, when you watch these guys there is within that kind of universe. Very clear strata of this guy is better, this guy is less good, this guy. And so you can pick out like that is the guy who is and you can do it statistically, like that guy’s the one of the worst offenders or that guy’s got the worst shooting percentage. And what you don’t see is the millions of people in the there’s a lot more strata of people that aren’t. And then by and I think of tennis, too, like the lower ranked guys complain, and I think rightly so, about the ways in which, like John McEnroe specifically talk about them, like when the number one guy in the world plays Djokovic and loses six one six two. And McEnroe is like trashing the dude. It’s similar to what you were saying. If you’ve ever seen anybody who even played college tennis, it’s just like they’re they’re aliens. I mean, it’s just it is insane. And like, you can’t even believe it. And the rhetoric around the pros, I do feel like, does a disservice to the guys who are between like the hundredth and thousandth best

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S2: in the world. Right. And I think I think that that even applies to what you were saying earlier, that you could learn how to kick a field goal the way that I did. But the ability of an NFL kicker or a college kicker, the sound of the ball coming off of a foot, you know, the leg strength, the power, the focus, the concentration. I mean, those are things that I certainly couldn’t even, you know, come to equate.

S1: You could kick an extra point that that was my butt

S2: kicked an extra point. And but one of the things I found most interesting in the Times piece was not so much that Scalabrine can beat anybody that walks on to a court in a gym at age forty three. It was how he talked about what it took for him to actually remain one of the 500 best basketball players in the world for 11 years. And it was it’s the mental part of it that mere humans can’t comprehend. You know, he talked about going to the dark place to tap into this next level gear. And he says in the piece, I would always say things like in a game, if I miss this next shot, my kids are going to die. I would say that to myself, wants to get through just to put the pressure so I can lock in and make the shot. Professional athletes are not like you and me, physically or mentally or in many other ways.

S3: I mean, just think about how competitive you got to be to stay in the NBA every year. They’re like drafting like some ridiculous high school athlete, college player. And there’s people from overseas that are coming for this spot like they are attuned to competition in a way that we’re just not prepared for. I’m actually surprised, but like the proliferation of social media, that people are still making the mistake of running up on a Brian Scalabrine because like it like now we should there’s this it seems like this should be a little bit more widespread knowledge that like, no, don’t fuck with that guy like he I think he’s so much better than you. You can’t you can’t comprehend it, like I said.

S1: But if you get lucky and you make him fall down, then you’re like made for life. That’s worth the risk. Like Fairpoint Slate plus members here, obviously a cut above other people and I’m sure that no one would ever challenge it. Thank you for listening. We’ll be back with more next week.