The Urban Meyer Is Out Edition

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S1: The following podcast contains explicit language. Hide your children. Hi, I’m Josh Levin, Slate’s national editor, and this is hang up and listen for the week of December 20th of 2021. On this week’s show, we’ll talk about how Covid is running rampant through every sports league again and through everything else again. And what in the how we’re going to do about it. We’ll also discuss the Jacksonville Jaguars firing Urban Meyer and why one of the greatest college coaches of his day flamed out of the NFL so quickly. And finally, Joshua Neuman will be here for a conversation about Kenny Washington, who broke the NFL’s color barrier a year before Jackie Robinson broke Major League Baseball’s. So why isn’t he remembered the way Robinson is? I’m in Washington, D.C., and the author of The Queen and the host of the podcast One Year. Season two and 1885 in your podcast feeds right now. Joining me is Stefan Fatsis, a man of Greek heritage, a native of New York. He resides in Washington, DC and is the author of the books. In order of Sales, Word Freak, A Few Seconds of Panic and Wild and outside Nets Stefan.

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S2: Did you check the sales figures for that? Can you be sure that a few? I looked on sold more than wild outside.

S1: I looked on BookScan. You did OK. I did not. It’s just obvious. I mean, that’s correct. That is correct. Yeah. OK. Our co-host Joel Anderson is off this week hard at work on the Tour de Force. Season six of Slow Burn on the L.A. riots. You can also check out Joel on Brian Curtis’s Press Box podcast, where he talked with Brian about how he moved from playing football to writing about it, what it takes to put together a longform audio narrative, and about the time he interviewed for a job at BuzzFeed. While wearing a suit as his interviewer, Ben Mathis-Lilley, was wearing a Michigan t shirt and swim trunks, filling in for Joel and then Joel honor wearing that same T-shirt shirt and swim trunks. His outside colleague Ben Mathis-Lilley you are actually carrying a Michigan T-shirt. It’s just I wrote that before seeing you on the Zoom Ben. I know we tell the story of the BuzzFeed job interview often, but in our defense, nothing interesting has ever happened to us, so we just don’t have that much else to say.

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S3: I actually think hiring Joel being a participant in that interview is probably the signature accomplishment of my of my brief and exciting tenure at BuzzFeed.

S1: The brief and nonstory Brief and exciting.

S3: Yeah, eventful event, right? Yes. High amplitude.

S2: If you dream of the NFL playing every day of the week, the coronavirus is making your dreams come true. More than 100 positive tests among players last week forced three games to be rescheduled. By next Monday, December 27th, assuming the current schedule holds, you will have been able to watch the NFL on nine of 11 days, including three Saturday games, three Monday games, two Tuesday games and two Thursday games. Silver Linings Playbook Indeed, sports like the rest of society, are getting hammered by the Omicron virus or, as I prefer to iOS Omicron as I read this. The NHL has postponed 39 games. NBA teams are so desperate for players that they are signing replacement ones, and college basketball teams are canceling games and lining up same day new opponents like they’re playing pickup Josh. Let’s start with the NFL. The league is responding to this new phase of the pandemic by loosening its Covid protocols, mostly by reducing the frequency with which it tests players. It seems there might be some scientific justification for that approach. Maybe, though a cynic might say that Roger Goodell is just doing what’s necessary to play the games.

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S1: So there is this Wall Street Journal piece Stefan that talks about, well, you know, the NFL is mostly fully vaccinated, and a lot of these players are asymptomatic. So if it’s asymptomatic, fully vaccinated players who test positive and they’re playing against other fully vaccinated players, then what’s the problem? And as you say, there is some kind of scientific basis to that. And yet and yet and yet, I don’t know if you guys read this Washington Post piece by Chico Harlan about what’s going on in Denmark.•. Let me read you a couple lines from this piece. The next month will be the hardest period of the pandemic, said Tyler Grove Krauss, the chief epidemiologist at Denmark.• State Serum Institute. I just thought you would like to know that there’s a state Serum Institute. One more

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S2: reason for Denmark.•

S3: that’s making this well, that’s my other t shirt.

S1: This will overwhelm hospitals. I don’t have any doubt about it before this way of Denmark.• had never seen more than 5000 cases in a day. On Friday, it logged more than 11000 within a week. In a moderate scenario, case numbers could 27000 in January. The institute estimates climb higher still off the y axis. Denmark.• projections are taken seriously around the world because they are informed as opposed to our dumb ass country by an all encompassing coronavirus surveillance system. Designed specifically for moments like this, when the nature of the virus is quickly shifting, but that data has shown so far is that the hospitalization rate is slightly lower for Omicron than for Delta, though because hospitalizations lag behind infections and because Omicron had only recently. Scientists say the results will be more meaningful in a couple of weeks, and this will be the last thing I read from this. Scientists have identified home MIS-C to throw at the country first, from travelers in Ben from Africa and then through several super spreader events. Just published paper describes a Christmas party attended by about 150 people. Most were vaccinated and had 71 tested positive for immigrant. Why do I get rid of this for two reasons number one. It was only after reading the story that I realized how much denial that I’ve been in about how horrible this is going to be and like Fair Play for me. Like, who wants to think about the fact that the pandemic is going to get worse again? Like, that’s not something that I want to thank much less say out loud. The second reason that I bring this up, as you know how we would tell that the NFL was taking this seriously and that science had something to do with us if they were saying absolutely anything about having games without crowds, because if the players are fully vaccinated, they’re asymptomatic. The players association agrees to do it, then fine player player football games. Why the why? If you care about the spread of this pandemic, would you have for crowds indoors and some stadiums?

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S2: Just because the league is 95 percent vax or whatever, and the players and most of the staff are young and healthy, it doesn’t mean the rest of the world does. It ignores the reality that these guys go out into the world, and it also ignores the reality that players won’t say if they’re symptomatic, if the league is moving toward testing only when symptoms exist.

S3: I mean, I think that the answer to that is just like, what? Where’s the willpower not only within the NFL office, but within the rest of society, right? I mean, I think that there is certainly a case to be made that it would it would make a lot of public health sense to shut down large gatherings right now. But saying that, you know, the NFL is specifically responsible or should be responsible for making that move, I guess it kind of ignores the fact that we’re not shutting other things down, except preschools. You know, and that there doesn’t just there just doesn’t seem to be the willpower for it.

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S1: Well, the thing that offends the Ben is that they’re claiming that. All of what they’re doing is guided by science and how smart they’re being, and like the chief medical officer said, we’re at the tip of the spear in seeing some of these changes before they show up and other elements of society. Because we do have so many tools at our disposal, we can apply 2020 solutions to the 2021 problems that we’re having. It’s just like they’re talking about how smart they are and how everybody else is, like, not as sophisticated and like, Oh, with, you know, but by holding these games and allowing these vaccinated asymptomatic guys to play against each other, we’re just like so intelligent. Like, how could you question the sophistication of our analysis? And so I push back at your claim that the NFL does not have any kind of like if they want to admit what they’re doing, then that’s fine. But like, just spare me the bullshit.

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S3: Sure. Although the NFL is most primarily responsible for its players and its staff members. I think that you, you know, the people in the stands are also fully informed and possibly reckless. And maybe, maybe they’re making poor decisions, but they are pretty much fully informed people making decisions. Whereas the NFL, what the NFL is in charge of saying,

S1: take that NFL’s fans are fully informed.

S3: I mean, we all understand the larger political context and cultural context to this. But you know, at the same time, like if the NFL is keeping its players and its people safe. And again, no one is offering the NFL’s money to shut down, to make up for its payroll, that it’s lose it, that it would be losing. Like we’re not going through the same political precautions. We’re not taking the same precautions at a political and national level that would allow them would allow the NFL or any other sports institution to shut down and to take that financial hit again. So I guess that’s where I come in as far as not fully blaming them for for not just going, going back to no crowds.

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S2: Well, let’s be clear, though, the NFL, because the size of these teams are so large. Looks really bad when there are Covid outbreaks. I mean, Cleveland, the Rams, Washington, they all have like 20 plus players in the on the covered list this past week.

S1: So the league, but under the new rule, Stefan, they were five zero. That’s right.

S2: So it’s all fixed, right?

S1: So the pandemic is over.

S2: The rules that apparently look like they do make sense is tweaking the return to play requirements, allowing players to get back on the field more quickly if they test positive. But they’re asymptomatic, so two negative tests back to back. The NFL is basically saying that the idea of quarantining for 10 days or whatever is old Covid and now we’re in new Covid and new Covid. We are freer to get players back on the field, even if they test positive. Oh, and by the way, and this is the difficult part that I mentioned earlier, the way that they’re going about this gives players the ability, as NFL players will do, to ignore the symptoms of their illnesses and injuries in order for them to play. So when the NFL says, Oh, we’re going to become way more vigilant about testing for, you know, symptoms for colds and whatnot, that assumes that the player is going to be willing to be tested for a cold or whatnot or admit like, I have a stuffy nose or I can’t smell or I have a fever.

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S1: It’s strange that, you know, treatment for Covid as a shot of Toradol. I don’t know. I don’t know what the explanation is for that, but that’s what the trainer says. I should take that. I guess I’m going to take it sorry to talk about Denmark.• again, but just one other thing to

S2: mark as we’re talking about Denmark.• Josh

S1: the pandemic there. This latest wave is seeded by, you know, 20 something year old to go out and are maybe not super symptomatic and then just spread it to everyone. And so I think again, just the and this is to your point, Ben just the larger societal attitude, the political, the cultural attitude, the fact that we’re just not in a position to close everything anymore, like emotionally or mentally and whatever the NFL does, it is perhaps an indicator of where we are at won’t be the cause of anything, maybe. But they are certainly like, there’s nobody here, not in the NFL, not in the NBA taking on any kind of leadership role in the way that, say, the NBA under Adam Silver did in March 2020. Everybody is just as their, you know, eyes closed and their ears closed and are saying, La la la la la

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S2: finally happen to ship as shutting down. But maybe leadership is saying, Hey, this isn’t as much of a concern for our constituents, and therefore we are taking this action. Yeah. Of course, the action here that the NFL needs to take is to make sure that its season ends and then they can play the fucking Super Bowl in February.

S3: Well, yeah, I think that that having been kind of. The devil’s advocate here, I think it would make a lot of sense, given that at least in my reading of the literature, we’re going to be doing this every year for a while, is that am I right about that, that there’s going to be winter surges of Covid for the foreseeable future? It would make a lot of sense to build that into the schedules for these leagues because that way you could shut down the games and you could take a pause of a month or two weeks or whatever is required without having to sacrifice financially and disrupt the lives of your employees and all the people who depend economically on these games and so forth. Yeah. So, yeah, I think it was if there’s a big mistake that I would identify, it’s in building this NBA and NFL schedule to the point that you’re you’re blindsided by the existence of Covid in 2021 and you’re having to play games with replacement players instead of having said, you know what, this virus might come back in the winter, as every epidemiologist has said. So maybe let’s like put a little slack in the schedule so we still can have our Super Bowl. We still can have our NBA playoffs without having to run out seven guys from the G League and the YMCA to play for the Brooklyn Nets, right?

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S2: Which is which is an issue in obviously the American leagues, and it’s an issue that coaches have begun talking about in the Premier League, which was devastated this week. There were ten games canceled, five over the weekend. Managers like Jurgen Klopp were very outspoken and Liverpool sort of are very critical of the sport for taking a sort of blind approach to it and not getting players vaccinated. The Premier League, the tax rates are like under 70 percent. Liverpool and Klopp have gotten 100 percent vaccination, but the concern there is, as the concern is here always is that these schedules really crammed. You know, the Klopp talks about like we got to go play next week against a lower level team in the FA Cup, where the vaccination rates are abysmal in the in the second and third tiers of English football.

S3: And I believe Stefan was that the team whose captain or coach had been in the hospital for 50 days for Covid and still not got the vaccine still not gotten the vaccine.

S1: I mean, Stefan, we have enough problems here that I don’t think we need to be going off on long tangents about the vaccination issues in the third tier English football. How have we gone so far in this segment without talking about the fact that the Brooklyn Nets found a way to justify allowing Kyrie back four road games? The explanation they proffered being and this just provides so much amazing support for my argument earlier. What a coincidence about the fact that any kind of like leadership or high mindedness about Covid has just completely vanished in the last two weeks. With that, you know, Nets making their statement about how we’re not going to have him be a part time player and blah blah blah. Now they bring him back explicitly saying that the reason was because Kevin Durant was playing too many minutes. I mean, they didn’t literally say that, but they said, like

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S2: basic like one

S1: centimetre away from that saying, like the minutes load on our team because of all these guys being out has been too much and then immediately Kyrie test positive for Covid. I mean, it’s just that the Nets themselves are just an absolutely amazing story and microcosm of that arc that all of this stuff has gone on. And the way that just like obviously Kyrie not being on the team is going to take a toll and guys are going to have to play more minutes until you’re just like realizing that now it’s just I did not. C Kyrie winning in this way. Maybe I should use you force Ben.

S3: No, I don’t know. I mean, it’s it’s December. He still hasn’t played, so I’m not sure I would call that a clear victory, especially given the fact that he apparently does have Covid.

S2: But do you know that for a fact that he’s tested positive or that he’s entered the protocol because he’s got a pass x number of tests for his have to practice?

S1: We know based on reporting he has Covid, he tested positive for Covid, but it just seemed to me and this is naive, like the way that the Nets put out their statement. Initially that there wasn’t going to be any way to walk back from it. I was totally wrong. They just totally walked that and

S2: it wasn’t only them walking back from it, it was walking back from it and us learning just how much they have coddled this guy during his absence from the team. The general manager, Sean Marks, said that he hasn’t talked to Kyrie about vaccination status. I don’t think that’s been appropriate right now. The times I’ve gone to see him, the amount of forming bonds and forming friendships and having conversations out of the box. I mean, come on.

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S3: I think that’s code for no one wants to get Kyrie started about vaccinations, and that’s a maybe of a protective maneuver by Sean Marks. But I think this speaks to how farcical it’s become that the Nets are forced to do this, and it’s because that they’re there because the number of minutes they’re giving to, for example, David Duke Jr. and players whose names we have not become familiar with until this season, which goes back to the original question of like, what is the point of the league’s forcing their way through this? And if they could be putting on great games that fans loved to watch, I think that’s one thing. Then maybe that’s still happening in NFL, but in the NBA, like the product is bad also, you know, so it is the worst of both worlds in the NBA. Like the those, these games basically have no legitimacy. I mean, they count technically in the standings, but it’s not like we’re learning anything about whether the Nets are better than the Mavericks when we’re watching these, you know, these super back up, back up, back to back up to the backup rosters play each other.

S2: Isn’t that terrible?

S1: I mean, what we learn, what we’ve learned in the past year plus Ben is that these games, especially in the NBA, are just inventory. They’re just like the reason that they exist is because they exist. There’s there’s not really any function to these games, even when there’s star players are out there in terms of determining championships and things like that. And the legacy is and the things that we purport to care about. There’s there to be entertainment. And so we, you know, tune in and buy Mountain Dew or whatever it is that they’re advertising. And so I mean, it’s all just pointless. I mean, that’s another thing that I kind of thought we would have learned. Nets gets back to your point, Ben. It’s like before 2020, the idea that, like the NFL wouldn’t play a game, it’s like, All right. Kennedy gets killed. Maybe we’ll think about it. But just like the the idea that the schedule could be moved, games could be canceled. It’s just like we had been so trained and conditioned to think that the games must go on no matter what. And now like, that’s so obviously not true. And yeah, we’re still like pretending like this past year plus didn’t happen.

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S2: Well, it’s not pretending it didn’t happen. It’s looking back at the past year plus and going, Oh shit, this really killed us financially. What can we do to power through this in a way that won’t jeopardize a gigantic chunk of our revenues? We are counting on television to show these games and we’re counting on gates, and we’ve had that now for this entire season. And let’s let’s let’s let’s thrust the let’s put the onus on fans to show up, hey, not our problem. Our players are ninety six percent vaccinated, except for the except for the dudes that are like forging their cards.

S1: America needs to see Patty Mills jacking up 25 three pointers on Christmas Day and the Lakers backcourt of Avery Bradley and Wayne Ellington dishing after DeAndre Jordan and this showcase time for America.

S2: Are you sure DeAndre Jordan hasn’t tested positive?

S1: I am not. But, you know, if he’s asymptomatic, just toss him out there.

S2: Coming up next. Urban Meyer. The Urban Meyer NFL experience ended last week, as you expected, and let’s be honest, hoped it would as a steaming pile of incompetence, vanity and shamelessness. It’s hard to pick a favorite example of Meyer’s asshole Ray, but I, of course, have to go with Meyer during training camp, telling kicker Josh Lambo, who was stretching at the time. Hey dipshit, make your fucking kicks and then literally kicking him in the leg. And after Lambo called him out, replying, I’m the head ball coach. I’ll kick you whenever the fuck I want.

S1: I don’t think it was actually hard for you to pack.

S2: Nah, not really wasn’t, though. Tim Tebow then, as one of the nation’s premier major apologists. Or is it Urban archaeologists? Was Meyer’s demise in Jacksonville after just two wins in 13 games. As predictable as it now feels, was it really about a supercilious college coach accustomed to bossing around unpaid teenagers who thought the same nonsense would work with millionaire adults?

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S3: I think that it’s very clear that he was extremely supercilious and extremely condescending. So yes, I think that part of it is pretty clear. What honestly surprised me about it is just how bad they were, because the one thing about Urban Meyer is that he has always been known as a bit of an asshole and someone who is maybe less than admirable in the way he handles some management decisions. But he’s also always been really successful. And so I think that’s the most surprising thing to me is just how poor they were on the field and how for someone who is his Ben as creative as he has been, as a coach, as an offensive coach in particular for his whole career. Just how bad they were. And, you know, once things start going bad, you have a lot less leeway when you act like Urban Meyer, maybe than when you act like some other coaches might have handled it.

S1: Could we just do an experiment here? Just do a quick lightning round as quickly as you can. Let’s just go around and talk about all the bad stuff. Urban Meyer has done, and let’s see who like runs out first. Let’s see how many of these we can. We can do rapid fire. I’ll go first. The whole Zach Smith domestic violence incident in Florida and Ohio State, where he had this assistant coach and who was accused of beating his wife and did absolutely nothing about it and refused to acknowledge that he’d heard about it. All right, you guys Stefan.

S2: How about hiring Chris Doyle as strength and conditioning coach in Jacksonville, despite the fact that he allegedly made racial remarks that led to him leaving Iowa last year?

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S3: I’m going to go with quitting Florida to spend more time with his family and reassess his priorities and then almost immediately taking the job at Ohio State handily and once again leaving his family.

S1: All right. Jacksonville calling all of his assistant coaches losers.

S2: At Jacksonville, not getting on the plane after a loss and staying behind to go to his restaurant in Ohio and getting a lap dance from a stranger.

S3: I’m leaving Florida in a situation where the next coach had, and according to reports at the time, absolutely disastrous situation as far as player morale and discipline because Urban let the good players do whatever they wanted.

S1: The receiver, Marvin Jones, Jacksonville, being so mad that Meyer was saying publicly and privately that that receivers were horrible, that he left the facility and had to be urged, All right, that’s enough. Like you get you get the point. He signed Tim Tebow at that Jaguars. He benched. They’re their best player because he fumbled one season. He’s a terrible person,

S2: and yet he’s playing in games,

S1: as you said in the intro. Stefan that the great contradiction here saw

S2: 31 arrests by Florida players.

S1: It just seems so obvious that this wasn’t going to work for so many reasons, and it just I just feel like it flatters us to be like, Oh, look at this terrible person and all these terrible things he did. So obviously it wasn’t going to succeed. Look at this stupid and Eifel team. And yet the great kind of mystery and contradiction here. Ben is it. The guy is an amazing football coach. Like, there’s no arguing with the amount of success that he had. And I also feel like we know that college and the like, there’s more of a convergence in terms of college and that. And I felt like Kliff Kingsbury sucked as a college coach, didn’t have a great record, and now he’s like leading one of the best teams in the NFL. So this idea that, like college coaches can’t figure out the if the games are so different, like that’s kind of feels obsolete. It just seems too simplistic to be like, oh, like he didn’t know how to treat the millionaires. Like there must be something more going on here. Has Urban Meyer just gotten to become more of an asshole in his old age? Did he think because he was innovative and smart and players? I mean, you don’t win three national championships if all the players like are in rebellion and and think that you’re the worst person ever walked the Earth?

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S3: Yeah, I think that going back to the end of his tenure at Ohio State is maybe instructive, because if you talk to Ohio State fans, as I did for a piece a couple of years ago for Slate, they weren’t entirely happy with the end of his tenure there either. There was a sense that he’d kind of fallen off a little bit as on the offensive side of the ball, that his offense wasn’t working quite as much as it used to, that the team was underperforming and its talent level. And he actually didn’t win a College Football Playoff game after the year they won the National Championship. He made it back one more time and they lost thirty one or thirty eight to nothing or something to Clemson. And so, like in his

S1: explanation for why his teams fell off and why the Jaguars didn’t succeed is that society has gotten soft. Like it’s not anything to do with maybe my concepts or ideas or my style or getting outdated, so I need to freshen things up. It’s all blaming other people, right?

S3: But right. I think that’s interesting, especially if you look at Kliff Kingsbury on a schematic level, you look like Kingsbury did is he brought an interesting and new and novel offensive style to the NFL. And then on the college level, if you look at two guys, Jim Harbaugh and Brian Kelly, who have had in the past similar and not quite identical as far as the off field stuff or their demeanor, but have been said to alienate players or both players the wrong way or be too kind of hard, hard driven. Harbaugh and Kelly both revamp their programs basically around that criticism and brought in younger coaches and change the way they did things and had then and then had more success. Urban didn’t do that. He didn’t do. He didn’t change his offensive system. The offensive coordinators he he brought in at Jacksonville were kind of retreads and obviously, given the remarks that you’re talking about, which is, I believe that’s from an interview with the NFL.com Ian Rapoport. Is that what you’re referring to? Mm hmm. Yeah, I mean, he it this is kind of the irony. If you’re as committed to winning as Urban Meyer says he is, and maybe you should think about what it takes to win in 2021 instead of just trying to make a point about how you would have won in 2004 or 2011 or whatever it is. And so kind of ironically, in the end, he didn’t do what he needed to to win, which was to change his attitude and to change the way he approached the culture, right?

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S2: Because he clearly doesn’t seem to have the mindset or ability to acknowledge that society changes and that therefore I need to change. I mean, the brief interview with Ian Rapoport that you that you mentioned. I mean, it was all about winning. When I got into coaching, coaches weren’t making this kind of money and they didn’t have agents. Well, nobody told you to sign those fucking contracts or hire an agent, either. When everything is so fragile, he said, we’ve talked about this for years, how the old stereotype of the bully coach is on the way out, particularly in football, but in other sports, as these guys get unmasked, Urban Meyer has been unmasked. It took maybe five or 10 years longer than it probably should have, and it took him going to a place where his bullshit wouldn’t be tolerated quite as easily. But he was unmasked. And this is the result.

S1: I think that’s half right. I think he is unmasked at Ohio State and at Florida, if you cared like that, there’s nothing.

S2: People were still willing to look past it, I guess,

S1: because of this success and because I think there is a sort of Pravda aspect to college football media where, you know, like there’s a video that’s going around of Meyer’s, just like reaming out Jeremy Fowler at Florida in 2010, calling him a bad guy because he had accurately quoted a Florida player as saying the Tim Tebow wasn’t a conventional quarterback and saying that if that was my son, I would have kick your ass or whatever it is that, he said. And that kind of stuff is celebrated by most college football fans and some of college football media. It’s just like, Yeah, you know, screw that guy. It’s like us against the world, like our program against the world. And so. In a in a different universe that’s like bears absolutely no resemblance to ours, like this guy would have been on hirable like, you know, a decade and a half ago, but it’s just like it’s the lack of success. It’s the fact that this gave the the Josh Lambo kicker leg incident gave Shad Khan, the owner, the ability to fire Meyer with cause and not pay him. I don’t know how that’s going to end up being adjudicated, but I think he has a pretty good argument, but also a Ben. The fact that they have this like can’t mess quarterback best prospect since like Andrew Luck and Peyton Manning, who comes in and is the reason I think Meyer was even interested in this job is that he gets this franchise with a franchise quarterback to build around. Trevor Lawrence is sacked the last like x number of weeks. It’s obvious. I think he’s probably going to be fine ultimately. But if you’re the owner of the Jaguars and you’re looking at us and you’re like, franchise player seems to be regressing, and there’s just a new headline every day about some dumb shit your coach is doing, then it just seems like this is the move.

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S3: Well, I mean, that also speaks to why it was a curious or maybe bad choice to begin with, which has had Urban Meyer’s not, you know, historically known for developing champion pocket passers in the NFL. Tim Tebow being his most famous quarterback? Probably a good example of that.

S2: Didn’t he, like pass on Joe Burrow?

S3: Yeah, he put Dwayne Haskins higher on the depth chart than Dobro when they were both, I guess, just backing up JT Barrett and, yes, Joe Burrow.

S1: In fairness, Dwayne Haskins was very good and Kyrie Haskins

S3: was extraordinarily good in college. But if you look at the NFL’s success of Joe Burrow vis-a-vis Dwayne Haskins and J.T. Barrett, if you were shod con last offseason, maybe you should have asked yourself if there was another college coach or offensive genius that you should bring in to coach Trevor Lawrence.

S1: Maybe somebody like Byron left, which he was a Jacksonville Jaguars franchise legend to the extent that the Jaguars have franchise legends and who seems to be doing pretty well as the offensive coordinator until Sunday night of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers? I mean, it’s. It’s a really kind of retrograde idea, like never hire a coach to like, whip your franchise into shape. Like, hire a coach because he’s smart and like. Has good ideas. And but but like this idea that you’re going to bring somebody in to give the franchise a new identity or to, like, instill a kind of discipline that’s just not going to go well, that’s the wrong attitude. Right.

S2: And it reflects the myopia of of of rich guys like Shad Khan, who by all accounts, is incredibly smart and very forward thinking in terms of the NFL’s business, but was duped into this idea that we’re a losing franchise. What we need is a name. I’m someone with, you know, this pedigree who is perceived as tough and he’ll change the culture like you just said Josh.

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S3: I mean, I think there’s something to the idea of changing the changing a culture. Certainly, Jacksonville needs a new culture. It’s just that Urban Meyer’s way of doing it was obviously the completely the wrong one. I mean, whoever

S2: celebrity coach not, you know, modern, effective, successful coach, particularly in this professional league.

S3: I think that’s what gets back to the kind of the end of the Ohio State 10 years is that he has been a brand name more than a coach for for some time. He was bringing in recruits at Ohio State, but he wasn’t quite getting the results on the field, and he wasn’t necessarily a hot, hot college coaching commodity even last year, when the

S1: feels exaggerated, that feels.

S3: Well, he’s not. I mean, you’re saying that he wasn’t a hot commodity last year in college.

S1: I feel like if Ohio State didn’t want him around, there were would be hundreds upon hundreds of college programs that were and big name ones, they would happily have him. I mean, USC would have loved to have Urban Meyer if he would have taken that job in the midst of the Clay Helton malaise. But now the question is like what his next destination is going to be. I think it would be naive of us to think that he’s not going to coach again. My guess would be that whenever Hugh Freeze decides to leave liberty, he’d be a great fit for that, for for them. I’m not. I’m a hundred percent serious. Like, I feel like Liberty would love to hire Urban Meyer because of everything he says and and not anything that he does. And because, you know, they just want to win games. But I’m sure there are other programs. I would still, maybe after a year where they can pretend that he is like, learn something. Would love to hire him again.

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S3: Sure. I guess. I guess the question is, will he be successful at those places? And I’m not sure. Like, you know, sort of, well,

S1: Ben Ben question is like that the name, image and likeness and transfer portal era like did Whitmire have been as successful if as now college players are much there is basically free agency and college football. Could Meyer’s succeed in that environment?

S3: Well, that’s a great point. I was actually I was actually thinking about. We kind of have drawn the line between pro and college athletes, you know, as in this discussion, you know, you can get away with screaming at a college kid and you can’t get away with it in the pros. You can’t get away with it as much anymore in college, either because of the transfer portal and simply because of the brand name and the level of exposure that a lot of these kids have before they go to college. They are making a choice between Ohio State and Alabama and Clemson in the same way that NFL players have a freedom to make that choice. So yes, I think he’s going to have to change the way he does things.

S1: College players have more freedom to choose now than NFL player. I mean, as an NFL player, you get drafted, you don’t have a choice and then you don’t hit free agency until your career’s kind of over. For a lot of players, college players can choose where they want to go and then they can choose where they want to transfer to.

S3: Yeah, and I think it was interesting to discuss that. And in light of some of what’s come out about Lawrence, about Trevor Lawrence telling him, like, you got to put our best running back back in the game, you know, like, that’s the kind of collaborative relationship that I think the best college coaches currently have with their best players and that the players have with their coaches. And it was it was, you know, yet another failing of his that he didn’t recognize that that was going to be necessary.

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S1: Well, congratulations, Stefan. You can accept this award on behalf of Josh Lambo for being the guy after everything. I mean, Trevor Lawrence could have gotten Urban Meyer fired the snap of his fingers anytime he wanted to. But you know, Josh Lambo look, there are a lot of people, you know, you got it. I have a we have a whole team of people to thank. They’re going to play us off at the Urban Meyer Getting Fired award show before we can list everyone who contributed to this. But it was really Josh Lambo who did it, who he does for America. And so if you want to close things off Stefan by just saying a few words, then then maybe we can be on our way.

S2: I will say a few never fuck with the kicker. All right, we’re going to say goodbye to Ben Ben. Thank you so much for coming on the show, but that is going to stick around for our bonus segment.

S3: Thanks for having me, guys.

S4: Coming up next,

S2: writer Joshua Neuman joins us to talk about Nfl. Pioneer Kenny Washington.

S1: And this week’s bonus segment for Slate Plus members, we’re going to have a conversation spinning out from our Urban Meyer segment. He obviously did not change and that led to him getting fired. But what about coaches that do change? What is the thinking behind that? How do they get there? What do they know and what do they do that Urban Meyer didn’t. To hear that conversation, you need to be a Slate Plus member. The membership will get you extra hang up segments that’ll get you. Slade Podcasts also a podcast without ads. It’ll give you unlimited reading on the slate website. It’s only a dollar for the first month, and it makes a fantastic gift. Give the gift of Slate Plus, and you can do that by going to Slate.com SGBV Plus. That’s Slate.com slash give plus. In 1946, a year before Jackie Robinson debuted for the Brooklyn Dodgers. Robinson’s former UCLA football teammate, Kenny Washington broke the NFL’s color barrier when he took the field for the Los Angeles Rams in an excellent piece for Slate Joshua, Neuman asks the question Why isn’t Kenny Washington an American icon and why don’t we say that Jackie Robinson’s breakthrough was a Kenny Washington moment rather than the other way around? Joshua Neuman joins us now. Congrats on the story, and thanks so much for being here. Thanks. So here’s the basic background on Kenny Washington born in L.A. to a Black American father and a Jamaican mother. One city baseball and football titles in high school was a baseball and football star at UCLA, where he actually overshadowed Jackie Robinson. So why don’t we start there, Joshua? Give us a sense of how great a football player Kenny Washington was at that time and how big a star he was and America.

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S5: Kenny Washington, well, first of all, he was a great football player and baseball player. It’s unclear which was his true love. He thrived at UCLA, where he became pretty much the greatest player in the land, won the Douglas Fairbanks Trophy, his final year. Playing there as the best college football player in the nation led UCLA to a six and four record and within four yards of the Rose Bowl describing his game. He was he was a punishing open field runner with a deadly stiff arm and the greatest long distance thrower of his era. I think like Patrick Mahomes of his day on the baseball field, he was, you know, an infielder with a big bat and just that rocket of an arm.

S1: There’s so much here that’s like redolent of its era. The four ties, the fact that he was both a runner and a thrower and kind of in the tradition of the quarterback play of that day. Stefan Yeah.

S2: And the interesting thing that I didn’t realize Joshua is how much Kenny Washington overshadowed Jackie Robinson in college. Robinson wasn’t the instant star at UCLA, either in football or baseball. It was all Kenny Washington, right?

S5: Well, baseball especially. I mean, Jackie. I mean, there was some debate about who was the better player on the gridiron. Different styles of play. Totally different. I mean, Jackie was probably quicker and more of a threat to go the distance at any moment. Kenny was more, you know, played more of the quarterback style position and and was a field general, a leader. And it’s interesting the newspapers really picked up on that and commended him for his leadership qualities, which was really unusual for African-Americans of the day. I’m Baseball’s. It wasn’t me. It wasn’t even close. Kenny. I mean, I think Jackie hit 97 in 94. Jackie hadn’t come into his own at. He was younger, right? He was a year younger. You know, they’re pretty much contemporaries. But he just Baseball’s hadn’t clicked for him yet, but he was playing, you know, for sports at UCLA. Kenny was playing, too.

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S1: OK, so Kenny Washington graduates college, as you said, he was the Player of the Year award in a non racist society. He would have been probably the number one pick in the NFL draft or somewhere near the top. But what actually happens when the NFL holds its draft and what is kind of the status of black players in the National Football League at this moment?

S5: It’s a great scene. He is. His last game in college is against USC. In the Coliseum, over 100000 people were there in attendance and and the game ends in a in a zero two zero tie. The Bruins had the ball at the at the Trojans four yard line opted to throw a pass to score a touchdown. Field goals were a little iffy in those days, so in hindsight it maybe wasn’t as bad an idea as it as it seems to be right now. Looking back, but Kenny is removed from the game with, you know, 15 seconds or something like 15 seconds left and and, you know, gets this standing ovation and four minutes, it doesn’t end. And as that’s happening, the NFL draft is going on in Wisconsin. Twenty two rounds, Kenny doesn’t get selected. This was at a time when a gentlemen’s agreement had been, you know, formed among the league owners going back to 1933 and because there

S1: had been black players in the NFL pre thirty three.

S5: Yeah, nineteen twenty to thirty three. There were a handful guys like Dukes later. It’s a complicated story. Dukes later. Fritz Pollard, Joe Lillard, the last African-American to play in the NFL. But partially, I think just because of the struggling nature of the league and its desire to emulate Lily White Major League Baseball. A gentlemen’s agreement is struck among the owners in 1933 and and it takes another 13 years before a black player is able to participate in the league.

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S2: That was Los Angeles just different. The culture was Washington. I mean, Washington was celebrated not only in the African-American press, but in the white press in L.A. and there were even white sports commentators who rallied to his. Defense and excoriated the NFL team owners for not selecting him.

S5: Yes, and yes, L.A. was a special place. But Kenny undoubtedly had a special place within the heart of Angelinos, both black and white. And yes, sportswriters took to him largely because of the kind of guy he was. He was gregarious bon vivant. He came from a family of achievers. He was accommodationist and very patient about political issues and the rate of change in America. He was what he was just considered a good guy, not somebody that was trying to be white by any means. That’s an important point. You know, when he did confront racism on the field, he was he didn’t shy off in Washington state, coach in the middle of a game, used the N-word to him, and he went after him. Same thing in the NFL. He threatened to fight with people and and defended himself. But but definitely a less polarizing figure than Jackie Robinson.

S1: So he doesn’t get drafted by the NFL. He then goes to Hollywood and semi-pro league called the Pacific Coast Professional Football League. There’s also he joins the Los Angeles Police Department. What can you tell us about the period of his life between UCLA and the Rams?

S5: It’s just so interesting. The context is he’s maybe the red grange of his era and he’s not in the NFL. So he’s, you know, making do trying to cash in on his celebrity makes a lot of money in that Pacific Coast Pro Football League more than any of the players in the NFL. Still, he’s not, you know, on the big stage, so to speak. He joins the police force polices. It’s not for him necessarily came from a police family. His uncle, who largely raised him, was the first black lieutenant watch commander on the LAPD. But Kenny passes the entrance exam for the LAPD, joins the force. It’s not for him. I mean, by all accounts, it was the angriest period of his life. Law enforcement wasn’t his thing. He was a people person. You know, he was he enforcing the law. It wasn’t in his nature. He liked to make everybody happy. And he was a fun loving guy. And as for the Pacific Coast Pro Football League, Jackie actually briefly followed him there, but Kenny was again the more dominant player of the two. And his reputation really is, you know, people come to the games to watch his long passes. He’s purported to throw the ball, Edwards even certain times during half times they have like he comes out and they measure the distance. He can throw the ball. And that’s that’s largely what the kind of fame he has nationally during that period.

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S2: Josh said he went to Hollywood, but he literally went to Hollywood. He starred in a movie in 1940, right after UCLA. That’s basically sounds like it’s about him. The main character is Kenny Harrington, and he busts up a gambling ring. And you have this great detail in the piece that Michael ToRead, the historian former NFL player, has reported that that movie, while thousands cheer, was the only one out of one hundred and twenty full length football films produced between 1920 and 1960 to feature a black star.

S5: Also, like it’s not just that film, but in almost all of his film, it’s sort of loosely based on his life, even when he’s playing obscure roles. One of the films he’s in, it’s called Rogue’s Regimen in 1948. He throws this. He throws this grenade halfway up a mountain. It’s a sort of a play on his the strength of his arm and in a rope of sand and easy living. Easy living is the Rams were actually in that film. He plays a character named Benny, who’s suffering from a knee injury again, sort of capitalizing on the knowledge that the audience is going to have about Kenny Washington. Unfortunately, while thousands cheered, I have searched for 10 years for this film and talked to everybody who might have a way into it is lost. But God, what a treasure that would be if we could unearth it.

S1: So as you’ve noted, he has been suffering a lot of knee injuries, sports medicine is not than what it is now, and he does not go to World War Two because of his injuries. And so by 1946, he is 27 years old. He’s certainly not the player that he once was. And yet this campaign began. Tell us who was kind of instigating this campaign to get it, not to get Kenny Washington. Then I fell specifically to get the Los Angeles Rams to sign Kenny Washington and bring him to the NFL.

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S5: Yeah. At the time, the Rams were the Cleveland Rams and they were the world champion, and they had lost money in that season 1945, where they were the world champions. And the owner of the Rams had had his eye on the cavernous Los Angeles Coliseum for years. And this was

S1: before there any Major League Baseball teams in California on the West Coast. Correct.

S5: Correct. And he decides he gets approval from the NFL to move the Rams to Los Angeles. Now, the Coliseum is publicly owned. So a group of black sportswriters Hailey Harding of the Los Angeles Tribune, Herman Hill of the Pittsburgh Courier and Abby Robinson of the L.A. Sentinel sort of lead this campaign that says, you know, basically, if you’re going to play in this publicly owned facility, it shouldn’t support segregation. You should give our Kenny Washington a chance to play and the Rams hem and haw a bit. They don’t embrace the situation quite the way that, you know, Branch Rickey would with Jackie Robinson, but eventually they give in to public pressure and they sign Kenny. A few months later, they sign Woody Strode, who was Kenny’s teammate both at UCLA and the Hollywood Bears of the Pacific Coast League, and also is his buddy, largely to room with him when he when the Rams go on the road.

S1: What’s so interesting to me, Joshua is the kind of comparison between Kenny Washington’s belief and gradualism, and then what was referred to in its day as Jackie Robinson’s militancy and how that gradualism made and kind of the earlier parts of their careers made Washington more palatable to the white press and maybe to white fans and made the white press and white fans hold Robinson more at arm’s length. And then now, you know, 75 years, 80 something years later, their reputations have kind of swapped in certain ways. It’s not that we should look at and Kenny Washington and say, like, what a bad guy. I mean, I think Harry Edwards, who you quoted in the piece put it right, is that Kenny Washington’s mistake was an honest mistake. He held out all his life, clinging to the notion that if we can demonstrate our decency, our discipline, our competitiveness, our intellectual capability and commitment, we too will be accepted as equals. Of course, it was a pipe dream. But how much do you think that contributes to their reputations, the politics of the two men?

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S5: It’s interesting. The main factor, you know, Jackie is an institution and we barely know who Kenny is, is because this story is complicated and messy and and a little bit sad. You know, the end nfl. I sort of get why they never celebrated Kenny story because they kind of destroyed the man. You know, he spent the rest of his life wondering what would have happened had he gotten to the NFL in his prime and watching this athlete who he played on the same field with all but usurp all of the kind of attention when it came to, like the civil rights trailblazer in American sports.

S1: There’s also no white savior and Kenny Washington story as as, you know, like in the movie here, like Harrison, Ford played Branch Rickey and the most recent Jackie Robinson movie. It’s like, you know, who do you? Who do you cast as the like, you know, white guy? And in the Kenny Washington the story. There’s no hero here for white America to celebrate.

S5: Now you cast George Preston Marshall as the villain, you know, even the Rams owner. It’s unclear how much he really wanted Kenny there. No, the heroes of Kenny. Or are the three black sportswriters? It’s hard to tell the Kenny story and still believe that the arc of history bends towards progress, and it’s hard, especially hard to do so right now in the sort of Colin Kaepernick moment. I think we’re so used to Colin Kaepernick’s name being bypassed, it’s become totally normalized. It was totally normal that Kenny would have been passed up in the nineteen forties. It was just accepted because of who he was. He didn’t play in the National Football League.

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S2: There’s also a league based explanation for how these stories evolve. Major League Baseball. Thought actively to cleanse itself of its original sin and wanted to turn it into as it did whatever it was 20 25 years ago into a celebration rather than an excoriation of what it did. The NFL never really had that moment or seemingly the desire to have that moment.

S5: No, and what pro-football does is it sort of throws Kenny into a group of players who integrated the sport Strode, who was who joined him a couple of months later so that he could have a roommate on the road. And then Marion Motley and Bill Willis, who played for the Cleveland Browns of the All-America Football Conference, which didn’t have a color barrier. You know, there was a documentary film called The Forgotten Four. That’s been the trope that the NFL has embraced. There was even a book this past September Keyshawn Johnson co-wrote. It’s called The Forgotten First, which is, of course, about four players who integrated pro-football. We’d like to this story to have to make us feel good and remind us about how things get better in America. Part of the point of my piece is just that’s not a reason to avoid the truth.

S2: And you know, at the end of your piece that on January 9th, next month, the last Sunday of the season, the Rams are going to wear a helmet decal commemorating the 75th anniversary of Washington signing with the team. And you point out that maybe this is the NFL’s moment to sort of mollify the public after cap after a Black Lives Matter, after black players dying of CTE?

S5: Yeah, it’s a great thing. It’s long overdue. I’m glad it’s, you know, it’s K.W. his initials. Not for people’s initials. But, you know, this week, American Underdog is in theaters. A story of a ram named Kurt Warner, who, who wore Washington’s number 13 one, is probably going to have his number retired before Kenny Washington. And to me, that’s just a sad statement, and I think the NFL should really embrace the truth, embrace Kenny unique and indelible contributions to the sport.

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S1: The story is why is it Kenny Washington an American icon? We will link to it in our show page. The author is Joshua Neuman. Thanks so much for writing the piece and for talking about it with us.

S5: Thanks, guys. It’s been a pleasure.

S1: And now it is time for after balls, and last week in our Slate Plus segment, we sort of meandered into a conversation about and this required some setup that will require some setup now. But the basic premise was if you are the world champion the best in the world at some sport event, then which of those events are? Which of those words would leave you the most impoverished or the least famous? And so what were some of the ones that I mentioned, steeplechase Stefan you started to get into some mind sport stuff, which I attempted to shut down. Yeah, we talked about telomeric skiing was a big one for you. You really got into telomeric skiing. So the concept here Stefan very thinly veiled was let’s get our genius listeners to write in with even better ideas than we had and that was borne out. So Joseph Shat, our Pele, wrote in with the fact that I was wrong about steeplechase. All right. Fair enough. Well, why don’t you come up with your own idea rather than knocking me down? But now, fair play, fair play. He did, and he did. Evan Jager and Emma Coburn, he writes, were making a good living with their their steeplechase stardom. But no, you’re right, he does. Right? And with skeleton, the current world champ from Germany, Christopher Grotheer, has 1100 followers on Instagram and works as a police officer. So pretty got pretty good nomination.

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S2: Stefan Yeah, Christopher, Hughes wrote in suggesting Ultimate and I just done that after ball about ultimate and did in it mention how little these guys are compensated? So that’s a candidate. I’m not sure the team sport thing works quite as well as an individual sport, which is why I think our final entry here from listener Yumi Petersen is is a good one.

S1: Women’s Nordic combined number one in the World Cup standings. Judo Westerveld Hansen. Eighteen hundred Instagram followers. I think maybe she should team up with the German skeleton did. Yeah, they could combine their forces and have nearly 3000 Instagram followers. Yeah, that would be good for them.

S2: You may also wrote, though I think sensibly, I know you’re thinking, why not women’s biathlon? As a comparison, former number one Dorothea Viera, 600000 followers on Instagram and the current number one Oldsmobile Royce Island, forty eight thousand followers so women’s biathlon far more popular than Women’s Nordic combined. All right, Joshua, it comes down to the best of old, handsome or Christopher Grotheer, so we just go with pure Instagram.

S1: Yeah, I got to go with Skeleton Cop. You would think that somebody who can go by skeleton cop would have a leg up, but apparently not. I mean, it’s it’s impressive how few Instagram followers this guy has for being skeleton cop. So Christopher Grotheer you are a champion. Stefan What is your Christopher Grotheer?

S2: We’ve reached the point where if you say Scorigami in a room full of sports fans, anyway, people know what you’re talking about. That’s a sign of just how far the phenomenon of the unique final score has come in just a few years from weirdo curiosity of a few NFL stat heads and people like me to a fixture of the game. So this feels like a good time for it, not a narrow Scorigami update. One of this season’s five Scorigami was 31 to five, but a more holistic one where we started, where we’ve come, where we’re going. The definitive history of Scorigami is yet to be written, but I will do my best here to add to the reporting canon. The word Scorigami was created by John Boyce and his amazing 2016 SB Nation video but the concept, as I’ve mentioned before, it goes back further. I first talked about it here in 2011. My former Wall Street Journal colleague, Carl Bialik, wrote about it in 2009. Sean Forman, who runs the sports reference websites, blogged about it on Pro Football Reference in 2008. That was when he added features allowing users to look up any NFL game score, as well as the separate Missing Scores tool that lists every missing score up to 70 70. But the idea of Scorigami was clearly in the ether already. The first line of Foreman’s post was much has been made of the fact that the Steelers Chargers game last Sunday was the first 9:49 game ever. The AP mentioned it in its game story, and the New York Daily News mentioned it in a headline over that story. One commenter on Pro Football Talk said that the refs overruled the last second Pittsburgh touchdown that would have made the score a pedestrian seventeen to 10 because and this was written in all caps. The NFL was more worried about making history with their first 11 to 10 ever, so hoi polloi were aware of unique scores. In 2008, Sean Forman dubbed them singular games, which obviously is not nearly as catchy as Scorigami, and a good name goes a long way to influencing whether something will take off. Scorigami is the Chilean sea bass of sports statistics. No one wanted to eat Patagonian toothfish, but when it was rebranded, Chilean Sea Bass grill it in squeeze some lemon, please. We have boys on this show. Five years ago this month, right after his piece was published, a computer guy in Pennsylvania named Dave Mattingly watched Boyce’s video and after the first Scorigami of 2017, Rams called forty six to nine created these Scorigami Twitter bot. After a couple of weeks when I did an after ball about that, the bot had two thousand followers today at Nfl. underscore Scorigami is closing in on three hundred thousand followers two Sundays ago, when the bot tweeted that Scorigami. It’s the one thousand seventy first unique final score in NFL history after Kansas City beat Las Vegas. Forty eight to nine more than 100000 people hit like there’s a subculture of Scorigami memes and GIFs. News stories are written. One Scorigami happens or when it doesn’t like when the Seahawks streak of nine straight seasons with a Scorigami ended in 2019, our friend Mina Kimes did a five minute video story about Scorigami on ESPN in September. Scorigami is tracked in just about every sport now. It was news last year when Major League Baseball had its first Scorigami in 20 years. Twenty nine to nine Atlanta over Miami. There’s Dodgers of Scorigami Penn State Football Scorigami World Cup Soccer Scorigami, a former sports reporter for the Casper Star Tribune, Patrick Schmidt created a Wyoming high school football Scorigami database, tracking more than twenty five thousand games dating to 1894, including scores of one hundred and twenty seven to seven and one hundred and two to 60. Hunter Ford of the National Collegiate Dodgeball Association Scorigami Nets Games Even though most dodgeball games and two to one, three to two and three to one last year as a pandemic project, the guy decided to blog about each of the fifty three NFLX Scorigami from twenty twelve to twenty nine. Team, he made it to 13. A designer named Tom Hill, Meyer’s sells a very handsome Scorigami t shirt, Christmas present Alerte Josh, but the king of Scorigami appreciation is Reddit user DVD. Five six seven one who maintains a spreadsheet of every unique scoring NFL history all the way back to the first games on October 3rd, 1920, among other things. And I can’t stress how insane that clause is. Among other things, the spreadsheet breaks down Scorigami by year and decade and team with tables and pie charts. I can tell you that the Bears have been involved in the most Scorigami games. One hundred and twenty three the Packers have played in five Scorigami ties. Coaches are ranked by Scorigami. George Halas, Curly Lambo and Paul Brown. Two hundred and seven combined Scorigami Tom Brady, cementing his Hall of Fame credentials, leads all clubs with an 11 to no record in Scorigami games. All right, I checked in with Dave Mattingly, who created the bot and asked if we’re running out of Scorigami. There have been ninety four since that Shaun Forman post in 2008. So about seven or eight every year. Mattingly said he recently asked the bots algorithm how many seasons before specific Scorigami would happen, sending a parameter of 50 years. It came up with one hundred and fifty eight remaining Scorigami with forty six, twenty nine, forty seven, forty four and fifty for three the rarest on the list. Now those seem certainly to be possible, so he expanded it to once in a century and the bots spit out fifty three nine, twenty five eight and fifty four thirty five as the rarest scores Mattingly’s conclusion. We have about 250 or so Scorigami left to record before they start becoming a once or twice a season event. By far, the most likely Scorigami extent is thirty six twenty three, which Mattingly said should show up once every four and a half seasons, but spookily hasn’t. Like him, I’m rooting for a nine field goal final of 18 to nine. I asked him what his favorite Scorigami of the bot era is, and he said fifty four fifty one in twenty eighteen, which briefly broke the bot because Mattingly hadn’t accounted for a losing team, scoring more than 50 because no NFL team had ever done that. So let’s enjoy Scorigami while we can, because what’s truly most important is the happiness it has brought into so many lives. The expressions of joy when a Scorigami happens, even when it’s their team on the wrong end of one, Mattingly said, never ceases to amaze me.

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S1: What a heartwarming sentiment.

S2: I figured that was a good way to conclude. We should tip our hat to Sir Somerville, who chided me on email. Listener Sir Somerville, that is for not mentioning that 48 to nine Scorigami a couple of weeks ago.

S1: All right, listeners, that is your tired child, Stefan and you’ll get what you what you wish. That is our show for today. Our producer is Kevin Ben death to listen to Pasha’s and subscribe or just try, go to Slate dot com slash hang up. You can email Stefan and hang up at Slate.com. And don’t forget to subscribe to the show and rate and review us in a non-trading way on Apple Podcasts for Stefan Fatsis. I’m Josh Levin remember but never tried Zalmai. And thanks for listening. And now it is time for our bonus segment for Slate Plus members, Ben Mathis-Lilley back with us, say Ben. Howdy, guys. And as you may or may not now business as listeners may or may not know, Ben is working on a book about the 2021 college football season with an emphasis on Michigan. There are some LSU in there as well.

S3: So I’ll you. There’s some Florida Atlantic little space

S1: for all you Owls fans out there. But since we’re talking about Urban Meyer, you kind of mentioned in passing that new LSU coach Brian Kelly, Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh had kind of changed their approaches and philosophies in a way that Meyer hadn’t. So Megan start by talking about that with respect to harbor, and then we can sort of broaden out and have a conversation about. Coaches that do change and don’t change, and maybe what some of the distinctions are there?

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S3: Yeah. So this is, you know, not necessarily insider information, but what happened last year.

S1: So this is insider information for Slate Plus members exclusively continue.

S3: What happened last year at Michigan last season was they went two and four and the players did not appear to be having fun and the coaches did not appear to be having fun. And a lot of people thought that Michigan was going to terminate Jim Harbaugh’s contract or that he was going to leave on his own because he was kind of burnt out, including myself. I thought that was the most likely outcome. But what they did instead is they brought him back. And he recalled the coaching staff to bring in four or five new coaches who are all in their thirties or early forties and kind of change the the whole vibe. It kind of changed the whole vibe around the program in particular. One thing that a lot of players would say in interviews is that the new coaches were much more collaborative, that they would ask them what coverages they wanted to run, that they would talk to them about whether they understood what the goals were of a certain schematic decision.

S1: I mean, this is a big theme of your book Stefan, right? That players just want to feel like they’re a part they’re not being dictated to. And like just Ben. I mean, the simple idea that it would be revolutionary to ask a player, like, what players would you like to run or like what seems to be succeeding for you?

S3: Yeah. And I think that I don’t want to be too unfair to Jim Harbaugh should he be listening to this. I did also speak to a player of his from Stanford, Ben Muth, who is now a writer for football outsiders, who said that he did that at Stanford after their first season. He went into the offensive line reading room and said, What plays you guys like? And that the kind of famous Stanford Harbaugh man ball offense that came out of that was actually the result of the offensive lineman feeling like they had, you know, an advantage in running certain kind of plays. So I don’t think it’s necessarily that he was a tyrant or a dictator his entire career. And then, you know, snapped his fingers last offseason and became a completely different person, maybe more that he realized that he had gone too far in one direction and what was happening wasn’t working and that he needed to freshen things up by restarting the program, essentially resetting the program without reset, without changing the head coach. And it’s something that Brian Kelly did, as well as I mentioned and the specifically one of the guys that that Kelly brought in last year. So maybe a couple of years after the quote unquote reset, but is Marcus Freeman, who’s the defensive coordinator and was recently elevated, the head coach? I think that’s interesting. In light of this discussion, I was just reading about Marcus Freeman and he said straight out, I’m not the kind of coach who goes and yells at people. I have a reputation as being a player’s coach, but I still have high expectations for the players. I’m still just as demanding as an old school coach. I just don’t think that that means I need to frown at them in the hallway instead of saying hello. And so I think that’s like kind of the way the two to square the circle to me because obviously a football coach has to be demanding in these situations. The the fans are demanding the administration is demanding they’re not going to let a guy go seven and five at Notre Dame just because he’s being nicer to the players. So I think the trick is being demanding in a way that doesn’t alienate and burn people out, and that’s something that other coaches have obviously learned to do and that that Urban Meyer did not right.

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S2: And it sounds like Harbaugh has learned and sort of, you know, innately understood his entire career that because, look, he’s also these are these are former players. They understood what it felt like to be dictated to by a coach, to be infantilized, to not be recognized as having intelligence and being worthy of making contributions to the way that the team operates. So it’s all a matter of degrees, right? I mean, the NFL coaches understand that the players have more agency and they are older and they are getting paid. And the assumption we’ve always had about college coaches is that as we discussed with Urban, that the the overriding authority makes them into bigger assholes than they need to be. I mean, they’re assholes at every level of coaching from, you know, peewee, whatever up to the pros. So it is this adjustment without saying, Oh kids these days. That seems to be a hallmark of being able to progress in your career when the times change and the the nature of the player changes.

S3: I’m curious, Stefan what you think about Bill Belichick, who’s kind of the counterexample that looms over a lot of these discussions as someone who who is the word supercilious, was used to describe Urban Meyer in our discussion, and I think it also applies to Belichick. And I’m curious what you kind of how you model it mentally that someone like Belichick who is not really a personable guy? Probably not asking players, you know, joking around with them or smiling at them in the hallways.

S1: But Tom Brady,

S3: but has been able to to have it stored in. Success, despite that,

S2: because I don’t think Belichick is an asshole. I don’t think he is a bully. I don’t think he yells at players. He was known. I mean, when I was writing this book 15 years ago as somebody who was willing to cut somebody like on the field that he was kind of heartless and that was all in the name of the team. But then you read either profiles of Belichick or books about Belichick, and you understand the sort of the depth of his intellect and the respect that he has for players, because ultimately, I think Belichick does respect the players tremendously and he recognizes their value to the enterprise. That doesn’t mean that he’s necessarily going to coddle or cut favors when it’s time to bail on a guy because he thinks that bringing somebody else will bring someone else and will improve the team. But he does seem to have a respect for everybody when they are in the building.

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S1: Respect for players, but not doesn’t necessarily treat them as human beings.

S2: Right? He’s not sentimental about them in any way, and maybe he’s not sort of human with them either. But inside the building, when it comes to football, he’s not a bad guy or perceived as a bad guy or an asshole.

S3: That’s something that that reminds me of a conversation I had with this guy, Chris Partridge, who coached under Harbaugh and is now at Ole Miss. And and I’ve I’ve heard other coaches say this in interviews as well. You know, it’s not necessarily that you have to have a great personal relationship with each one of your players, but they have to trust you and they have to trust you to make them better and to win games. And so that’s that is a relationship that Belichick has been able to establish with these players and that when you talk when you read the quotes of the Michigan players this season, they’re talking about their assistant coaches. It’s not necessarily, Oh, this this guy is so nice. He’s so soft. It’s I know that he has my interests in mind of making it to the NFL, of making myself a better player. And so that’s that’s the kind of trust that you have to establish. It doesn’t always have to necessarily be something on a on a on a personal basis.

S1: That’s interesting. And there’s this old cliche that coaches say in all sports that you learn more after a loss than after a win. And it seems like that was probably the case for Brian Kelly and for Jim Harbaugh. It’s been said about erosion that has failed. Tenure at Ole Miss led to his success at LSU. I think at Urban success at LSU also led to his failures at LSU, so this can work as like a, you know, a little bit of a seesaw effect. And we’ll see, you know, coaches get complacent even after learning a lesson, they’ll forget that they had had learned the lesson. And I think that with Meyer like, I hate to try to, you know, empathize ah, with the guy. But. He’s somebody who never had that opportunity to learn from losing, and if you’re in your late 50s and you’ve never failed, then obviously you’re going to think that you’re not the problem and you’re never the problem. When would he have ever had the chance to have a come to Jesus moment? He never had a foreign aid season like Brian Kelly did. He never had a two and four season like Jim. Ha ha. But did he ever lose to Michigan?

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S3: No, he didn’t lose to Michigan. And, well, that’s the thing. He never gave himself the chance to do that because he bailed on Florida when it was about to be a mediocre football team. He bailed on Ohio State when it was started to become clear that that his coaching methods weren’t as effective as as they had been.

S1: But when you when you do that, I mean, when you say was about to be like, Well, we’ll never know. Maybe he would have turned it around. And I’m sure in his mind it was going to. If he stayed, there was going to be great. Or in his mind, he like the bad Urban Meyer college football seasons are fan fiction like they never happened. And so he gets to the NFL. And it didn’t. It didn’t seem like he was going to learn any lessons. But the thing that’s so spectacular about this is that he flamed out so quickly and so horribly that he I mean, I think he can have a college job. If you want that, he’s never going to get an NFL job again. He’s never going to have the opportunity to learn anything or to implement any change. And I think that’s, you know, because of all the success that he had, he just became fixed and his like asshole ish Nets. And I just think he’s never going to change at this point.

S2: And ultimately, in the NFL, what he didn’t understand that his bullshit wouldn’t work. Sally Jenkins wrote a lot about this in The Washington Post the other day before he got fired. Any point she she writes, Imagine you’re a veteran in his locker room, left to listen to his froth about a plus two mentality. Nobody tolerates that shit in the NFL. And if you’ve already got a subpar roster and a rookie quarterback and your words have no impact, you lose trust and you lose games. I mean, Meyer walked out saying, Oh, the losing just ate at me. I never had to lose before. Well, no shit, dude. So how do you respond to that losing? That’s ultimately what makes someone successful.

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S1: The NFL is really fucking hard. I mean, and the Sunday night game,

S2: the Bucks to be buddies. Good, the

S1: Bucks, the Buxton, the Bucks didn’t have a lot of their skill, guys. I mean, Tom Brady doesn’t look so good when he doesn’t have, you know, great receivers and running back. But like the Bucks, were the highest scoring team in the league and the defending Super Bowl champs, and they scored zero points. I mean, this stuff happens. And so Tom Brady

S2: hadn’t been shut out since, like 2003. You just need

S1: to kind of adjust to the new reality that you’re living in, where no matter how smart you are and how kind you are and how rational you are. I mean, the Ravens have lost three games and I think by a combined total of like four points or something in the last three weeks. And they’ve lost because John Harbaugh is like doing the smart and politically correct things and his players all love him. And so this stuff just happens and it’s just like does not fit into Urban Meyer’s mental model.

S2: Well, Urban Urban Meyer football model is based on the fact that three quarters of the games that he coached in college were gimme victories. There are no TV victories in the NFL.

S1: Thank you for that, Stefan and Ben, thank you, as always, for your contributions to American society and to this program. Thank you, guys. And thank you. Sleepless members, we’ll be back with more next week.