S1: The following podcast contains naughty language.
S2: Hi, I’m Josh Levine, Slate’s national editor. This is setting up and listen for the week of November 30th, 2020. On this week’s show, we’ll talk about the NFL and covid Times, the Broncos playing without a quarterback, the forty Niners playing without a home stadium, and the Ravens likely pressing on in the midst of a team wide outbreak. We’ll also discuss the life and death of soccer legend Diego Maradona and whether there will ever be another player or person like him. And we’ll assess the football debut of Keker Sarah Fuller, who became the first woman to play in a power five game.
S3: I’m in Washington, D.C. I’m not there of the Queen, the host of Slow Burn Season four. Also in D.C., Stefan Fatsis, the author of the book Word Freak in a few Seconds of Panic, got some soothing rain sounds going on in my background. Stefan, in case people are picking that up, has what’s the weather report from your part of town?
S4: Yeah, rain beating down gently on the skylights, a gentle beating.
S3: My poetic weather report with us from Palo Alto, Slaid staff writer Joel Anderson. He’s the host of Slow Burn Season three and upcoming Season six on the L.A. riots. Do you care to bore us with some California weather?
S5: Well, I mean, it’s gorgeous outside, sunny, crisp, probably in the 40s this morning. I’ve got on a sweatshirt, sweatshirt, weather. So, yeah, this is what we pay all that rent for, for for it to look like this the day before December.
S4: Good to see you’re not under a blanket, though, Joel. I’m glad to report that we do not in case people who are fans of Joel’s Twitter feed may think that we record every show under blankets that the public radio people often do, we do not.
S5: Our generous producer, Melissa, has allowed me to do this sans blanket today. So thank you, Melissa, for letting me be free with little radio track record under a blanket. Better sound.
S6: A day before the Denver Broncos was scheduled to host the New Orleans Saints, they reportedly reached out to the league office to ask a question. Could assistant coach Rob Calibrates be their starting quarterback on Sunday? NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell turned down the Broncos request, but that shows you how desperate the Broncos were to address the unprecedented predicament. With the Broncos down all four of the quarterbacks because of covid-19 concerns, the Broncos were forced to start Kendall Hinton, a converted wide receiver from Wake Forest who hadn’t played quarterback since twenty seventeen. Things went about as well as expected. Joshes Saints won thirty one to three and Kendall Hinton went one of nine for 13 yards with the sack, two interceptions and a passer rating of zero. It was the latest embarrassing inflection point and the NFL’s push to play through the pandemic. Up next, the Steelers Ravens game, which was originally scheduled for Thanksgiving but was pushed to Tuesday because of an outbreak on the Ravens that includes quarterback and reigning NFL MVP Lamar Jackson. The league must also figure out what to do with the San Francisco 49ers, who are looking for a new home after Santa Clara County. My home county, by the way, released new restrictions on Saturday that banned all contact sports. It was an ominous sign as the league moves into the final month of the regular season with coronavirus cases up around the country and little time left for scheduling flexibility. So, Josh, your saints prevailed over the Outman Broncos on Sunday, even though you guys barely played with the quarterback yourselves.
S7: But did the wind feel like at least a little uncomfortable because of the circumstances, just kind of layering in different things that you’re trying to provoke me and responding to?
S3: I know where to begin. The joke’s on you, though, because every win this year feels uncomfortable because of the circumstances, as does every loss. So I’m not going to even take the bait on this one.
S8: You know, safety Kareem Jackson of the Broncos said that he felt like the NFL was making an example of his team by making them play the game without a quarterback. And I think that there’s some truth to that. It’s sort of like, you know, when your parents catch you smoking a cigarette and make you smoke the whole carton or pack, I guess it depends on how hard ass your parent is, if it’s a carton or a pack. But, you know, the NFL was willing to embarrass the Broncos and potentially embarrass itself by putting on a game in which one of the teams was not able to compete. I mean, you had a running back. And, you know, Joel, as you know, running backs can get hurt in any circumstance in a game or practice. It’s part of the job description, but one of their running backs got hurt. And you have to think that maybe the fact that they’re running Wildcat and the Saints knew every play would not be something that would help protect the health and safety of those players. But, you know, Goodell said at the beginning of the year, was there not going to move or push any games for competitive reasons? Only for health and safety reasons. And, you know, the Broncos coach, Vic Fangio, says after the game that he was really disappointed not in the league, but in his quarterbacks for meeting, for meeting up being Marcellus. Apparently, the quarterback lied about the fact that they had done this. And a team employee like sent the NFL surveillance video, which showed that they had been actually meeting and had been close contacts with Jeff Driscoll, the quarterback who did test positive for covid. So, Stefan, you know, I think that there’s a bunch of smaller questions about what the NFL could or should have done, whether they’re being made an example of whether the NFL should have postponed the game.
S9: But I think the bigger question here is one that we’ve all been kind of thinking about, you know, in in all aspects of life, which is how much of blame can we put on individuals versus institutions? Because, you know, the NFL is the one that’s forcing its teams and its players into a situation where they’re not in a bubble and mistakes are going to be made or people are going to be people. And then I think it makes the NFL look better, feel better about itself to be like, oh, it’s the players fault. It’s not our fault. It’s it’s, you know, Drew Loks fault and Blake Bortles is fault.
S4: Yeah. I mean, the fact of what’s happened nationally with millions of cases, more than two hundred and sixty six thousand deaths, is that despite that, human nature dictates that we’re going to get less vigilant over time. People’s guards are going to drop, athletes are going to think themselves impervious because, hey, we’re already abiding by all of these rules. Nothing’s going to happen to us. We’re doing better than ninety five percent of the population. And the players are a convenient scapegoat. Yes, our friend Nate Jackson pointed. Out to me over the weekend that he wonders whether the Broncos would be in this situation if Pat Bowlen was still the owner of the team, that they’ve got a muddled ownership situation right now, that the league isn’t particularly happy about either. And that might have made it easier to make an example of the Broncos and make an example of these players.
S3: The Broncos also aren’t good and aren’t going anywhere. So it’s not like losing this game is going to change, you know, their status and in the playoff race or so.
S4: Well, but it certainly benefited the Saints competitively and their chances of getting home field advantage in the playoffs if there are playoffs, right?
S5: Yeah, the Saints is division rivals probably would have a lot more to say about their competitive advantage here. Right, because they’re the ones that, you know, they they took an L because the Saints basically got a week off. Right. And I could totally understand them being furious about that.
S4: Yeah. And the other factor here, Joel, is that it’s not just that the competition was delegitimized here. The game was a joke. At some point, it is dangerous to put lesser athletes on the field competing against the fastest, strongest, most ferocious linemen and linebackers in that play football. Kendall Hinton, the quarterback who stepped in, wasn’t going to get killed out there, but he didn’t belong out there playing quarterback. How many players of the Baltimore Ravens going to play with if they play on Tuesday night? They had like 20 guys who were sidelined by positive covid tests or exposure’s. This doesn’t trend in the right direction and it just makes the NFL look bad. It does affect the competition and at some point it does put athletes at some risk. Kendall Hinton wasn’t upset about getting to play his quotes. There was a good story in the athletic attic. Talk about how he found out and what they did to prepare. But he couldn’t do anything to prepare. He couldn’t take any snaps. He was ready play plays off of paper and watching video. That’s insane to try to do that and compete in the NFL on notice after you haven’t played it down as a quarterback in like two or three years.
S5: I mean, the NFL has already decided that there is an acceptable amount of risk that they’re willing to put their players through by playing in the first place. Right. I mean, again, people haven’t talked a lot about it, but the Jaguars have a running back. Rockwell Armstead, who’s been hospitalized twice after testing positive for coronavirus. So they’ve already said to themselves, we’re willing to risk our players. And and, you know, for what it’s worth, the players agreed to it. I mean, they they’re the ones that reached an agreement with the league to play under these circumstances. So I guess I’m torn like I’ve been torn all weekend about whether or not the Broncos should have been made to play that game or not. And I still haven’t really figured out where I fall on it because the Broncos signed up for this. They said that this is what they wanted to do. Roger Goodell had warned them earlier in the year, as Josh pointed out, that, you know, there would be competitive disadvantages and the games would go on in spite of it. And the Broncos, knowing all of that in the quarterback room, knowing all of that, would not particularly diligent. And, you know, I know that that’s a human nature thing. You know, it kind of reminds me of, like my parents, they just think that if you wear a mask and you go someplace like that protects you for all time, that that’s just like, oh, you know, everything’s fine. I had a mask on, but like, people are not still taking the same sort of precautions that they were earlier. But the other piece of it, like you said, Stefan, is that football is so goddamn dangerous, man. The Phillip Lindsey is the running back that went out in the second half with the knee injury for the Broncos. And yeah, I mean, just imagine being a Bronco that day like everybody was compromised because that sort of competitive disadvantage puts a strain of burden on everybody else. You’ve got an offensive line that has to perform against the defense, knowing that there’s a lid on the offense, like they’re basically going to be run blocking all day long. So the defense is prepared for that. The running backs are running into eight and nine man boxes. The receivers are turned into essentially glorified tight ends. Then you’ve got the defense that has to be on the field. All got goddamn game long because their offense can’t keep the ball. They can’t sustain any momentum. They can’t put a drive together. So the defense is out there all game long. So it just I don’t know, man. The thing is, is that it’s all you’re picking from bad decisions all the way around. Right. Like, there’s not there wasn’t a good decision to make. I guess canceling would have been the right decision in the whole scheme of things. But that’s not with the NFL and the NFLPA have signed up for this year. So you could kind of understand how it happened. Right.
S3: Well, when you started off, Joel, and saying, you know, the NFL has, you know, made peace with the fact that they’re willing to put players in a lot of danger. I thought you were talking about just the regular NFL, irrespective of that. But I think I think there’s something to that that like there’s kind of like a you know. Buy the ticket, take the ride aspect for all of this.
S8: It’s like whether you’re a player or a fan or a team, like the whole concept of professional American tackle football is that you’re willing to buy into injury risk both long term and short term. And so the way that they’ve handled covid is unsurprising given that larger context. I mean, like what would you expect that the NFL would be like? Man, we really care deeply about, you know, the idea that a player could possibly get sick or injured, like we could possibly, you know, stage these games now, like, that was never going to happen. But, you know, I think you could make an argument in isolation that what the NFL did here was with the Broncos was justified. And in keeping with the logic that they had laid out at the beginning of the year. But then I look at the Ravens outbreak and there’s a story about, you know, I think I read this on your story on ESPN Dotcom that says the Ravens outbreak, which as of Sunday had resulted in confirmed positive test for at least 20 players and staff, included a strength and conditioning coach who didn’t promptly report symptoms or consistently wear a mask. The team since disciplined him. Needless to say, protocols designed to minimize spread won’t work if they’re not followed. I mean, that to me suggests denial is like, OK, you’re going to obviously every outbreak is going to stem from, you know, somebody getting the virus. And maybe you can look at that person and say they weren’t wearing a mask a hundred percent of the time. Or maybe they should have known what their you know, what their symptoms were. But like, that’s just what’s going on everywhere in America. And to act like, oh, it’s unusual. And like, how could we possibly anticipated that the Ravens strength and conditioning coach wouldn’t consistently wear a mask? Like that’s the whole reason that there was an NBA bubble. That’s the whole reason why, you know, if you have people go to work or you have restaurants open, that the virus is going to spread. And for us to just, like, sit here and accept this idea coming from the league office that like, well, it’s not our fault that, like, you know, obviously it’s your fault, right?
S4: I mean, where does it stop? You know, it’s not the Ravens. It’s not our fault. It’s the Ravens fault. It’s the Raiders fault. It’s the Titans fault. It’s the Broncos fault. We’re already at what? That’s an eighth of the league. Who are to blame isn’t the NFL, the NFL headquarters.
S3: We should also note the Saints got fined five hundred thousand dollars and have a seventh round pick for celebrating after a game without mascots.
S4: There we go. Five out of thirty two. And there’s more that I’m sure I have neglected to remember here. Clearly. I mean, I think it’s clear at this point because if you’re the if you’re Roger Goodell in the NFL, you’re looking at projecting that this could happen during the playoffs or during the Super Bowl. And the only way that this works for the rest of the year, I think, is that why don’t they just take a pause, take two weeks, shut everything down, bubble up the way the NBA did, and resume competition under the strictest guidelines possible because not just coronavirus problems, but the kinds of physical risk and competitive disadvantages that we saw on Sunday are going to just keep happening, I think. Wait, Stefan, you mean bubble all the teams in one place, no bubble of the teams individually and find tight ways of traveling by charter and controlling this to the maximum ability possible?
S1: I mean, I guess that’s really ambitious. And I mean, that’s something, for instance, the 49ers are going to have to consider, right, because they’re getting kicked out of here, you know, out of the South Bay and they don’t have anywhere to go.
S3: Are you proud of your home county for. Yeah. Making these rules?
S5: Absolutely. Because I don’t have a lot of sympathy for them, because none of these teams, none of these professional teams, none of these college programs have shown that they felt any obligation to the communities around them. Right. Like they feel like by playing is their public service, when in fact, a lot of places, especially a lot of these colleges that we’ve talked about here previously, they’ve been responsible for some of the breakouts in their communities. So Santa Clara County isn’t obligated to help the 49ers put on a football game.
S1: You know, that’s up to them. And so if they have to go to Arizona or wherever the hell to to pull this off, then that’s on them. I’m glad that they do it. I’m glad that there are some jurisdictions in this country that are pointing out how absurd this all is. Right.
S3: Well, it’s it’s a rare example of exceptions not being made for sports by government. And it shows that there is at least a possibility that there is you know, can you imagine a higher authority than the NFL commissioner’s office that can step in and bust the league around and say, no, you can’t have a game here, you can’t do things the way you’ve been doing it. It is at least theoretic.
S4: Possible, like it doesn’t have to be this way, it is radically possible also, Josh, that there’s a gigantic outbreak in Tampa in January and there is a shutdown that prevents the Super Bowl from being held there.
S3: I mean, Ronda Santos, the governor, is not going to be responsible for that shutdown. No, probably. Probably good.
S4: I mean, there’s a point where local authorities will do what Santa Clara does when they are pushed to the brink.
S1: But are we doing this or are we proposing this shutdown and Riebling are bubbling in the first place because of the competitive disadvantage piece of it? Because, you know, I mean, there’s been times that I’ve seen teams play in championships with players hurt players out. I mean, we just watched it with the Miami Heat. They lost their best player in the finals and they didn’t have to play. I remember one of the worst championship games I ever watched was when Florida State played Oklahoma and they were down to the third string quarterback, Marcus Outsing, you know what I mean?
S4: So, like, sometimes it just happens like fun to watch, but not necessarily want to watch that, knowing that the reason is that some people were exposed to coronavirus who may have been exposing other people to the coronavirus, who may have been exposing other people to the coronavirus. And that seems to me that it should be a priority of the leagues.
S3: Well, it’s not going to happen. I mean, sorry to burst your bubble, but I think what the NFL is thinking here is what a they just want to play every game to get to maximize the TV revenue. But I’m sure they’re thinking if we stop, we’re not going to start. They’re not going to let us start again. Like, you’ve got to keep the forward momentum going. Like when you run a marathon, you can get across the finish line. But then when you stop, you, man, my body is like, totally jacked. Like, I couldn’t like, you can’t you can’t move the next day or the day after that. Like, if they are able to keep going, they can keep up this idea that, like, well, it’s just like kind of moving along with its own momentum, I guess. I guess this is happening. But then if you pause for a couple of weeks, then you give people time to stop and think of like, wait a second, they paused. Maybe the pause should continue. And, you know, Goodell is not going to going to go for that.
S4: I don’t know. College football’s paused individually and collectively. I mean, they seem to be continuing. I’m sure the NFL would find a way and FOX and NBC and ESPN and CBS would force them to continue. I mean, there was a Thursday night football game between the Packers and forty Niners a few weeks ago that was played the day after our players were placed on the covid-19 list.
S5: Right. I mean, the thing is, is that we also keep thinking about this in terms of competition and competitive advantage, so on and so forth, and not necessarily that these guys are human. I mean, one of the guys that tested positive, James Connor, had Hodgkin’s lymphoma a few years ago. You know, he’s a Pittsburgh running back. Mark Andrews, tight end for the Ravens. He has diabetes. He tested positive. Like it’s a reminder there are people on these teams that around these teams that have preexisting conditions and comorbidities. And we’re taking for granted that these folks are going to recover in the way that we expect them to. We don’t know for certain that it’s all going to be, oh, guys just missed it. They’ll be able to come back and get back to work. The NFL has gotten really lucky. The college football has gotten really lucky with that so far, but they keep pushing it, especially as the numbers go up, especially as hospital capacity, you know, is filled. At this point, I don’t want to predict anything horrible, but like we at a certain point, we need to look around and be like, you know, it’s not just that the Broncos didn’t have a quarterback, like people tested positive and like things happen. We can’t predict this virus all the time and we need to be cognizant of that.
S3: Yeah, it’s a good reminder. And I just want to have one final quick thought as we’ve built up some credibility in this segment talking about the kind of bigger picture issues and the dangers here. But I just wanted to just very briefly talk about how we have we have settled the kind of Dumba argument about how many passes do you think I can complete at an NFL game? I mean, well, we’re going to talk about this in our bonus segment, but the classic version of that was like, how long do you think you could last in the ring with Mike Tyson? That’s another variation. But this one, like had and he’s like a good person to, like, try out in this role, given that he was totally unprepared to be in this game, but like had been a college quarterback and was presumably like the greatest athlete and like the history of his high school. I don’t I mean, I am not 100 percent sure about that. But like, this is a guy who is better than ninety nine point nine nine nine percent of people that would be in a bar engaging in this argument. And he’s like one for nine with two interceptions. And the one was like a tight end screen pass. And so, you know, next next time this big argument comes up, fire up the tape from Broncos Saints.
S1: Hey, by the way, we could actually kind of put your boy in there to take some hill. I mean, he didn’t he didn’t necessarily distinguish himself or cover himself in glory either, by the way.
S3: But all right, let’s let’s let’s continue checking and we’ll continue our weekly updates.
S4: As I’m sure some of you have to, I’ve been bingeing Diego Maradona media since the soccer legend died last week at age 60. Obits and remembrances and perspectives, YouTube videos galore, Madonna scoring famous goals and forgotten ones, highlight reels of Madonna doing preposterous things with a ball and two defenders, Madonna just warming up before a game. And I have to say, those might be my favorites. Brilliance disguised as mundanity. As everyone knows, Madonna’s two most famous goals came in the same game, the World Cup quarterfinal against England in 1986. The first was the hand of God. The second was Madonna racing 70 yards and prancing Englishmen after Englishmen along the way. Let’s listen to a call of that goal in Spanish.
S10: Ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba.
S11: Ow, ow, ow, ow, ow, ow, ow, ow, ow. Thank you for coming for super cell phones.
S4: He says the genius, genius, genius, I want to cry. Holy God. Long live football. What planet did you come from? What planet indeed. There’s a lot we could discuss about the life and times of Diego Maradona. We did that a year ago in our interview with Assaf Kapadia, the director of the documentary Diego Maradona, which you should go back and listen to and watch the film. We’ll post a link on the show page. But Josh, I want to zero in on an aspect of Madonna’s career that came into clear focus for me this past week. That as Rory Smith wrote in The New York Times, Madonna was not a bridge between eras. He was the zenith, the climax, the end.
S3: Yeah, that’s a really expensive idea. And we’ll get into that throughout that segment. But the thing that comes to mind for me, especially when thinking about that 1986 World Cup quarterfinal, is that in that game, Madonna personified individual brilliance in a team game and that Argentina team was Maradona and a bunch of other people. And I think even people who are like enormous fans of, you know, the Argentina national team and World Cup history would acknowledge that.
S9: And this is maybe the one example in the history of the World Cup where you could say that a single player dragged his team to a championship and that just doesn’t happen in soccer. And so if your introduction to the sport was, you know, somebody like here’s the goal of the century from FIFA and like, here’s the most famous goal, the hand of God, or like the 86 World Cup. Check it out. You would have a totally cracked up, incorrect view of what it takes to win in this sport. Like this just doesn’t happen. And, you know, this was the kind of dizzying high of Madonna’s career. But, you know, while you would get the wrong idea of soccer in general, you wouldn’t necessarily get the wrong idea about Diego Maradona by watching that game. This is someone who made the best players in the world look ordinary, both on the field and off the field. And, Joel, it’s hard to think of another example of a guy who transcended his sport in the way that Maradona did both as a personality and also just like his relationship to the game itself on the court or on the field in the way that he’s just so distinct even from his peers in terms of the greatest players in the history of the game.
S1: Yeah, I mean, I think, you know, and I always try to be like up front about this on here. Like, I haven’t followed soccer for much of my life and definitely wasn’t following it in my youth when Maradona would have been at or somewhere near his peak. But, you know, as I got older, I became more familiar with, like, these exploits in retirement than, like, his talent. Right. So he became as much notorious as he was excellent for me in the way that like Mike Tyson, Lawrence Taylor, Dwight. Good. And I don’t know if anybody here remembers Roy Tarpley. Maybe Bommel does. But like people like that, though, like they were like, oh man, they’re so talented. But their career was marred by drug use, drug addiction or whatever. So watching I see Madonna documentary this weekend was like a revelation to me, man. So would you guys just talked about about how one person could dominate a soccer game? I did not know that it was possible for one person to do that at soccer. Like I was watching the documentary and I was like, wait a minute. Like Argentina one, he helped this one team win in soccer. I didn’t know one person could have this much impact on a game. And apparently that’s not that it doesn’t happen. It only happens because of him. And so, yeah. So I think Eric Abetz wrote in Slate so bit on Maradona, you could drop him into any game in the world on a dusty patch of empty ground or a neighborhood, five portside court or World Cup final. And he would thrive. He was the sport’s premier individualist. And I’m like, I’m so glad that I mean, I don’t you know, obviously you don’t want anybody to die. But I guess I’m I’m glad that I got a chance to catch up and figure out, like, what it was that made him outstanding rather than, you know, relying on the headlines that they told the story of his decline in the last, you know, 20, 30 years of his life, because I had no idea he was like this. The only guy that I’ve seen in soccer and like the last five years or 10 years that I was like, oh, man, that guy’s amazing. Like, I could point him out and he’s awesome. Was like killing him, baby. And then, like, you watched all these old clips of Maradona and you’re like, oh, shit, that guy was everything that everybody said he was.
S4: I feel bad that I didn’t know about it until Saturday, essentially, and the question that Roy Smith brings up in his piece in The Times and that I’ve been thinking about is just that. Could you recreate Maradonna today? You know, his biography is the sort of classic born in poverty in the Baddiel Ball or Orange or bunch of rags or socks, you know, glued to his foot as he walked to school every day, discovered and signed to the local team. But what makes it so, I think on Replicable is that the way sports has evolved and the way soccer evolved, you know, Diego Maradona stayed in Argentina until he was in his early 20s. That would never happen today. Maradona played for Barcelona when he went to Europe, but he didn’t stay very long as it didn’t work out. It’s in Barcelona that he gets a taste for Coke in the in the early and mid 1980s. And then he goes to Naples, this nothing club, which never would happen today. And it’s just the sort of the the impossibilities in modern professional soccer that would prevent someone from both languishing or developing in a small place as a youth and into his late teens and early 20s and then go sort of neglected on a personal level, you know, where are the handlers, where the protectors to keep him from away from the drugs and the mafia in 1985 and 1986 and 1987, none of that. What happened today? Madonna was so much of the end of the sort of pre professional era in soccer and in sports that his, you know, his image and his star becomes that much more vibrant because of it. His story becomes that much more effective because of it.
S1: Yeah, well, I mean, you guys tell me because I don’t know. I mean, you know, obviously I’m still coming to this. I was just shocked at how wide open he was, you know what I mean? Like, you could get access to him at any point in watching the documentary. The thing that becomes clear so soon, so early is that he hates being at the center of attention, like the crowds, like people tugging at him. And he looks like he’s enduring it like it’s a misery the whole damn time. And actually, it’s funny that that happened that I watched it the week after we talked about Freddy Adu. And like all the pressure of, like being a celebrity or being like, you know, a soccer superstar, I just could not believe that people had this kind of access to him like a superstar. Like I mean, Michael Jordan was famous in nineteen eighty eight, nineteen eighty nine. It didn’t seem like you could get to Michael Jordan like that. And I’m just sort of curious as to how it was how it was that people had access to Diego Maradona like that, you know?
S3: Well, he hated it and he loved it. I think he liked what it allowed him to do in terms of like nightlife and his notorious appetites. But you know what I think was so brilliant and affecting about Diego Maradona, the documentary is that this footage showed how impossible it was to be him or to be someone with the kind of fame and acclaim he had. And again, like, you know, without living in a gated community, like, you can just compare him to Lionel Messi, as so many people have have done, because, you know, they come from the same nation and just the kind of privacy that Messi, his celebrity, affords them, like the level of scrutiny that he gets comes on the field. He’s also, you know, I’m sure, followed by paparazzi. But he can live, you know, his his money and celebrity and the mega club that he works for. Every everything is kind of orchestrated to give him the kind of best conditions to perform in the way that that he can. The field is immaculate, like all this stuff. And I think the point that you’ve been trying to make, Stefan, is like not that long ago, you know, obviously within our lifetimes to like highest levels of the sport with the best player, he had to deal with things that are unimaginable to us now and the way and and so it’s then kind of unsurprising that he had the fall in the lows that he did. But just his ability to still thrive in those circumstances is really remarkable.
S4: Yeah. I mean, there’s a chicken and egg question, too. I think, Josh, would Diego Maradona become the player that he became if he was, you know, coached intensely from the age of six and sort of Pam. Earned and protected for his entire life as a soccer player, would those improvisational skills and that beauty and creativity and imagination and daring, would all of that been sort of ground into dust if he was a rich kid who played in some club for a very professional style and level of coaching? It’s impossible to know. But that’s all part of Maradona’s story and how we view him as part of this lost age in football, where the sport was way more violent, way less disciplined, way less organized professionally, way less controlling than it became just a decade later. And Madonna, as Smith and others, Roy Smith and others pointed out, he really wasn’t responsible for the transformation of the style of the game. He was kind of the last breed of on this solo player hirable, but he was responsible for the evolution of the business of the game. There’s this great story about how in nineteen eighty seven Napoli, his team is drawn to play Real Madrid in the very first round of the European Cup, which was the predecessor to, as we’ll see, the Champions League. And Silvio Berlusconi, who owned AC Milan, was like, What are you doing? These are the two of the best teams in Europe. Why are they playing in the first round? And Berlusconi comes up with an idea that eventually over the next few years leads to the creation of the Champions League and this corporate of five big club dominated world of European soccer.
S3: Yeah, and I think an interesting question is in talking about the circumstances that Maradona came from, both in terms of the the abject poverty of his family, but also the kind of autodidact nature like, you know, kicking in orange rather than like being on a manicured field with a coach going around cones. I wonder if it’s if it feels fair to say that, like on a population level, what those kind of circumstances lead to are a lot of, you know, a lot of potential players falling through the cracks and staying, you know, in poverty and not ever getting the chance to realize their talent, but on an individual level. On the people that do make it, it can confer a kind of singular Nassr brilliance or, you know, the trials that you have to go through make you tougher. But it can also lead, like when you like, with with marijuana. When you do get to the kind of heights of the profession, then maybe you haven’t been given the tools that you need to stay there. I don’t know. How do you feel about that job?
S5: Well, I don’t know. I guess it’s I wonder if it’s bad for, like, the Top End players, right. That like, you know, that sort of system might mute some of the greatness of the elite player, but it brings up your median player. Right, so that like that sort of system makes, you know, players to how many players on a soccer field like I you know, it makes players, you know, six through 20 to a four through 20 to that much better. But like one through three, there might be a cap on how good they’ll be and how effective they can be, because you’ve just brought up the median soccer players and made it so much better. So, yeah, like, I think about that a lot when it comes to like basketball to that, OK, we’re coaching guys to be three and players and not be creative. You know, there’s the the mid-range game. Like maybe you’ll never see anybody like Kobe again. Or it may be a while before we see somebody like Kobe, somebody that prefers the difficult range jump shot, which we know is like a bad shot. But it has some art to it. It has some beauty to it. And, you know, that’s not going to be possible with the way that their coach and players today. So we may never see, as you guys have been saying, we’ll never see somebody like that, which is really disappointing because I thought, you know, man, just watching that dude, I was just struck. But actually, I had this is other piece of it, too. That was just shocking to me that, like, you guys were talking about how like there’s just there was no infrastructure for Mariota and it really hit home for me when I found out, you know, so the 1990 World Cup that was played in Italy and Argentina beats Italy in Italy and they were mad at him. And so it’s how you test him knowing that he was going to test positive for drugs to get him suspended. I was just like, that’s like something that’s incomprehensible. I just feel like that’s like a thing that has been lost and talking about all this, that they intentionally sabotaged the greatest player in the game, you know, and I I just can’t imagine that happening anywhere in any sport today that maybe I’m naive, but that just seems crazy to me.
S3: Well, there’s just like so many unique circumstances with him and with that World Cup and him being kind of like a national hero or a hero in a certain part of Italy and and Napoli and that kind of engendering hatred and and disrespect and jealousy. And then he beats Theo. I mean, it’s just kind of bizarre, unique circumstance that just adds to the legend and, you know, the triumph and tragedy mixed in, which is just seems like it’s always a part of Maradona’s story that anything that positive happens with him. It’s accompanied by a negative. But, you know, Stefan, the thing that I’ll take away, the things that I read and listen to and watched in the last week, there’s a segment for Gary Lineker, the former England national team player who’s now a commentator played against Madonna and the eighty six World Cup played in the top top flight of English soccer and talking about playing, you know, in an all star game, essentially with Madonna and describing the pregame routine. Describe him kicking around socks in the locker room, describing him doing like CPI’s on the field before the game, and Madonna kicking the ball as high and as hard as he could 13 times in a row and just having the ball land back on his left foot without retiming like a couple steps. And then Lineker talks about how he went back to Barcelona, where he’s playing at the time, and then like players of Barcelona trying to do it. And he said, like, we couldn’t do more than three in a row. And on the third one, we’re just like running all over the field. And so, you know, it’s these conversations they’re talking about the players who were his peers being ahead of him and talking about how he could do things that they couldn’t do. It was just a really great story and a pretty telling example of what made Maradona a brilliant.
S4: Yeah. And the Madonna in his retirement. There was an interview he gave where he said basically like, could you imagine how good I would have been if I hadn’t done drugs? So for all of that brilliance, there was more there that we never got to see whether it was a longer time of him being playing at that level or doing even more ridiculous things on a soccer field in important games. They didn’t win the 1990 World Cup. He got kicked out of the 1994 World Cup after testing positive for ephedrine. So that’s part of Madonna’s of the contradictions in his life. But there’s always. For all of the greatness, we still wonder if he could have even been better.
S12: History is on the field in Columbia, Missouri, as Sarah Fuller is about to put her right foot into a football, speaking volumes to women around the world.
S3: That was Dave Neil of the network narrating the moment before Vanderbilt’s Sarah Fuller took the second half kickoff, Invalides game against Missouri becoming the first woman to play in a major conference college football game is a soccer goalkeeper. She helped lead her team to an SEC championship the previous weekend. She was on the field for the Vanderbilt football team, wearing a play like a girl sticker on her helmet because every one of the team’s regular kickers was prohibited from suiting up because of covid-19 contact tracing. On that kickoff, Fuller knocked the ball 30 yards down the field, mostly on the ground. It was a designed squib kick, and since Vanderbilt lost forty one to nothing, she did not get a chance to score. No field goal attempts, no extra points. Stefan, what do you make of the whole Sarah Fuller episode experience? How was covered?
S4: Talked about, thrilled for her. There’s zero doubt that a soccer player like Sara Fuller could learn how to kick a football and kick it well, make field goals, make extra points. No doubt in my mind Vanderbilt was put in a situation where they needed to find someone to be a rostered kicker. Had to already, somebody pointed out on Twitter, had to be clean. This was a former NFL kicker, Shane Graham, who now coaches at the University of Florida. He said had to be someone cleared by the NCAA to play in a game, had to be cleared by protocols, and there no men’s soccer team at Vanderbilt. So the blowback has been that this was a publicity stunt, that it’s not really meaningful. But the reality was it was a reasonable choice by the Vanderbilt football program to reach out to the soccer team and to Sara Fuller to do this. And it was also terrific public relations. I mean, this was a great thing for them to do. Whether women are going to play football or not is, to me, beside the point. The fact that they did this is a great message to soccer players, to girls who want to kick, who want to play, I’m sure. Why not? I think no harm, no foul in terms of them wanting to do it. If even if they’re accused of this being a publicity stunt, which I didn’t think it was.
S3: Vanderbilt seizing on the positive PR fired coach Derek message the next day, not not content to win the news cycle. Their job?
S1: Well, I mean, you know, I thought about that. And I don’t think anybody really cares about Derrick Mason getting fired. I don’t think it really takes away from Fuller. Right. I mean, because the thing is, is that if you took any pleasure or joy or inspiration from Sara Fuller’s performance on Saturday, it happened amid an absolute ass kicking from Mizzou, you know what I mean? It wasn’t like they lost 41 to nothing to Alabama. So, I mean, you’re looking around, you see the problem, you see what’s happening out there, you know? So, yeah, I mean, like Derrick Mason getting fired a day later. Under those circumstances, they got to have the positive press and they’re, you know, moving on with their program in the way that you would expect an SEC program to. I didn’t watch the game because I don’t make a habit of watching Vanderbilt football if I can help it. But I just again, it’s just another one of those things without being too much of a broken record here, it was predictably an opportunity created by coronavirus man. And so we have to be honest about I’m happy for Sarah Fuller. I’m happy for anybody that took inspiration from it. But it also it’s just, again, a massive failure, massive institutional failure that created this opportunity. And like, she shouldn’t have had to be out there because of because of this. But I’m glad she was. But I mean, if you want to talk about, like, winning the news cycle or losing the news cycle, I mean, this all happened because Vanderbilt fucked up.
S3: Yeah. And I think the other reason to be slightly less sanguine about this moment is like, you know, they had her go out there and kick the ball around and, you know, that created this. Kind of cognitive dissonance where you are, you know, you listen to that big buildup by Dave Neil, she gets out there. It’s this great moment. She squibs the ball. And then we hear that this was like this great achievement for womankind. They didn’t really let her try to kick the ball deep and maybe they assessed, like, you know, she wouldn’t have kicked it very far in the air and maybe it would have looked bad for her. And they didn’t want to embarrass her. I don’t know, maybe she would have kicked in the enza.
S9: This is all just conjecture and speculation. But, Stefan, I think there’s a little bit of a risk there in Overpraising what she did on the field while, you know, making sure that we talk about how great it was that you got this opportunity, how it is inspirational for women and girls, how women clearly have the ability to kick a football if given adequate time and preparation and training. We can believe all of those things and think all of those things without looking at that kick and say, like, you know, that was, you know, amazing as an individual moment on a football field.
S4: Yeah. And I was I was very circumspect, I thought in my introductory comments there, because the reality was that I did think that the predictable right buildup and overreaction by conventional media was a little bit eye rolling and counterproductive. My problem as a fake kicker is that you’re America’s favorite fake kicker. Thank you. Is that. Yeah, they sent her out there to do something that wouldn’t necessarily make her look good as a kicker. And there are reasons for that. One, it’s hard to kick a football just because you play soccer, just because you’re a goalkeeper, just because you can punt the ball 60 yards does not mean that you can kick a football off of a tee or off of the ground and do it as well as a as a as a trained kicker. She had no training. She had a couple of days to go kick some balls with the team. Could she have made an extra point? Absolutely. Could she have kicked the ball into the end zone? Probably not. Kicking off is really hard. It takes a lot of work. It takes a lot of practice. Remember last year when Carli Lloyd banged a few from fifty five and everyone was going crazy? Well, Carli Lloyd was taking like a six step approach on a field goal that would not happen in a football game. This takes training, it takes reps, it takes practice and the rhythm.
S7: In fact, there is not. She is a woman. The relevant fact is she’s a soccer player who’s never who’s never got football player, never, never kicked a football before two days before this game.
S1: Also, it wasn’t like she was a standout soccer player either, which was actually kind of a surprise to me. Like, I did not know that. Like she didn’t actually have much of a collegiate track record before this season in soccer, you know what I mean? Like, she had barely played up until this season.
S4: So she was certainly, you know, like every other division. One athlete, she was incredibly good on her local high school and local club team, no doubt.
S7: Doesn’t mean she’s not going to be on the US national team or something like that.
S4: Right. Right. So the problem then to send her out there and have her kick the ball. Twenty five yards or 30 yards and punch it the way she punched it, which is a very soccer motion, is what she utilized. And the coach said afterward that was designed we wanted her to feel comfortable to kick the ball the way she was used to kicking it. And you’re right, Josh, she probably would have if she had been allowed to kick off conventionally. It might have been a disaster, might have gone to the thirty or the twenty five for the twenty. It wouldn’t have looked good necessarily. The more prudent approach, of course, would have been to say, you know, we’re only nine come back next week when we’re playing Georgia Tech a week of reps. And we will allow you to to kick an extra point or a field goal if we get into range. So it’s but I think we’re looking at this more technically, right. I mean, as a message, just her being on the field was enough. The flip side of that, too, is that it gave sort of Mauga sports Twitter an opportunity to dump on this, as Jason Whitlock did over it, whatever it’s called, out kick. He wrote, Sarah Fuller briefly made football socially acceptable for America’s most ardent vertue signallers. That was her primary accomplishment. Pleasing Make a wish, America. I mean, Jason Whitlock can just go away. But unfortunately, that is a message that you could take from this. She didn’t look like she was an actual kicker and she was sent out there to score a point in the culture war, as he wrote.
S1: If you were inclined to come into that thinking that as he was, then you were going to end up at that same place regardless. Right. So, like, he’s not he’s not coming at this with any sense of fairness or morality. Right. Like he wanted her to fail into him. He had to do was see her not do a regular kick off or whatever. And like, he got to be right for him, for him and the people that wanted to be that way. And if that’s the way they want to be, fine, fuck them. But, you know, that’s just. That’s I mean, it’s not a surprise coming from that precinct. Yeah, man, I just you know, I would have I would have liked to have seen her had a chance to kick an extra point, you know, like at least something like that. But again, that’s just a testament to how bad Vanderbilt is. Like, I mean I mean, they are so bad that they never gave her they never put her in a position to where she could even kick a field goal or extra point or do a real kickoff. Right. And not even get close, man. I think they crossed like. Did they cross that cross the 30, right? Yeah, man, I had forgotten that Vanderbilt and I actually was talking with a guy over the weekend, an assistant coach somewhere that like Vanderbilt, it’s either baseball between Vanderbilt and Kansas for like the worst power five programs in the country. Right. So I guess I had failed to realize how bad they were. And to your point, Stefen about like what they should have done has given her another week. But I mean, what was the alternative? And are you surprised that a coaching staff I don’t want to say that they were bad, maybe not necessarily the best decision related to football strategy. Like, of course I would.
S7: Well, you know, I think I think the alternative is, you know, like in high school, you see often the best player on the team, the best athlete kick off. That could be an offensive lineman sometimes. Sometimes it’s the quarterback, like they could have staged a competition and practice that we can just add every player, like line up to kick off and see who could kick the ball the furthest. I mean, obviously, they weren’t they weren’t anticipating going into the game, you know, only kicking off once because they didn’t score the whole game. But realistically, they probably could have known you’re not going to be kicking up twenty times or ten times or four times.
S3: And so, you know, they put her in the position to do actually the hardest thing as a kicker, like LSU has had really good kickers the last couple of years. You know, they had a guy called Tracy who like barely missed. They have a guy, Cape York, who barely misses now. And neither of them kick off. They have like a dedicated kickoff guy.
S4: Let me just say, since I have a little bit of experience doing this, kicking off is really hard. I was able to, you know, get to the point where I was consistently making thirty five, thirty, even forty yard field goals. I could not kick off for the life of me. Both legs, strength, timing, run up. The whole thing is way more intricate than it looks, and it’s a hard thing to do after spending a year practicing it, which I did, let alone for Sarah Fuller to step in and after two days and be asked to do it. So I understand not wanting to embarrass or even worse, I’m letting her do something that was doable. On the other hand, the doable didn’t necessarily look good if you were looking for that, if you cared about more than the fact that she was in uniform on the field, delivering an incredibly inspiring message. And by the way, being really good about talking about it, she was terrific in her interviews after the game about the entire experience and what it meant to her and what it meant to anybody that might have been watching.
S3: So I guess what I would have suggested from a pure competitive standpoint is like have somebody else kick off and have her do that field goals and extra points. Like, I think if you’re strictly looking for like who would be the best for draw, I bet she would have been better than anybody on the current roster at field goals and extra points. And like, I bet if you lined up everyone on that team and just had them try to kick off, I bet she probably wouldn’t have been the best at that. But then if you look at it just from an optics and PR perspective, if you’re down twenty one to nothing at halftime like Vanderbilt was and you just send out some like random dude to take the second half kickoff and you’ve made all of this hoopla, Sarah Fuller being on the roster and having the chance like it’s not going to look good if they did or do it for the team not to let her do it. Exactly.
S5: Are once they were sort of, you would say, sort of locked into the newsmaking moment of it, then you kind of got to go through it. You don’t want to detract from the on the own headline that you set up for yourself. Right. So, yeah, I just I wish you know, I wish she had gotten a chance and maybe she will.
S1: I mean, I don’t I mean, the thing is, I mean if you lose in forty one to nothing to Mizzou and I don’t know who else is on the schedule, I can’t imagine that they’re going to have too many other opportunities to score this year like that side of it. They’re playing Georgia. Yeah. OK, yeah. I mean them scoring points against that defense if they could do it against Mizzou seems highly unlikely.
S3: Stefan, what can you tell us about the history of women kickers? Sara Fuller, as we’ve discussed, obviously a unique circumstance of somebody who was pressed into duty, but there are women who’ve kicked in college before her, and these women are examples of people who’ve trained for it and did have an opportunity to score in college games.
S4: Yeah, Katie Naida kicked two extra points for New Mexico in twenty three in one game. April Goss kicked an extra point for Kent State in 2015. There are other women that that have kicked in lower divisions going back to 1997, actually. So this wasn’t groundbreaking in that regard. But to do it in a power five conferences, what set it apart? And there are women who kick for high school teams all around America. You know, I mean, soccer players have strong legs and there are kicking camps all over the place. And if you like kicking, go learn how to kick a football.
S9: And they’re obviously like enormous barriers to entry for women and football. The reasons that you would not want to play or be encouraged to play by, you know, coaches or by our broader culture, art and norms. And the kind of pathway here, I believe, would be one that’s like just based purely on individual interest rather than being encouraged by a league or I don’t know. But like, maybe this moment will encourage more women to get out to kick. But it seems like these kind of structural barriers to women getting these opportunities are being encouraged to like learn the specialized skill that I think they there’s no reason that they wouldn’t or shouldn’t be able to learn. Joel, I don’t think those structural barriers are going to be lifted by what happened at Vanderbilt.
S5: Yeah, I mean, if you if you want to be good at soccer and that’s a particular skill, it’s hard enough to train for that and, you know, train to be a kicker. I mean, people go to kick and camps. I mean, Stefan knows this better than anybody, right? That people go to kick and can spend a lot of money kicking clinics and spend all this time like so just to be able to get in line to do this, it just seems like it would be really hard.
S1: And now it’s time for after balls. In our last segment, we saluted Power five kicking pioneer Sarah Fuller, and it got me to thinking about a lesser known female kicking pioneer. Are you all familiar with the movie Unnecessary Roughness stuff?
S4: Josh Yes, dude, of course. August 26, 2019, Fatso’s after ball about women kickers after Carli Lloyd took some kicks with the eagle. Yeah, yeah. Mentioned in there. OK, Ireland played Lucy Lucy Draper.
S5: Yeah. For the time when this movie came out in nineteen ninety one, Texas State University did not actually exist. The program was based on SMU, which at that point had just gone through the death penalty, but it was filmed. And if you’re from Texas, you knew it was filmed it what was then known as North Texas State University and they wore the same colors and all that good stuff. But at any rate, they welcomed on the great Lucy Draper, who was a female kicker, who was also, you know, Kathy Ireland, who was a Sports Illustrated swimsuit model and so on. And I don’t know. Do you think people know who Kathy Ireland is at this point? Probably not. Yeah, she has been a while.
S9: Maybe our younger listeners do not.
S1: Yeah, they probably don’t. She was a big deal in the late 80s and early 90s, but at any rate, she played the great Lucy Draper in that movie. And so in honor of Kathy Ireland and the, you know, the game breaker, Lucy Draper, we’re going to name our after balls after Lucy Draper today. So, Stephan, who is your Lucy Draper?
S4: In one of his excellent columns on Diego Maradona, Rory Smith of The New York Times noted that there have been countless new marathoners are next marathoners, the Madonna of this country or the Maradonna of that region or city or town? Yorgi Hodgy was the Madonna of the Carpathians. Paul Gascoigne was the Madonna of England. The website Beyond the Last Man counted 53 soccer playing Madonnas and a few in other walks of life. The Indian Madonna, the Coptic Madonna, the Caribbean Madonna, the Madonna of the Alps, the Bosporus, the Caucasus, the Orient, the Nile, the desert, the East. And but the list is missing at least one Madonna, the Madonna of Greece. He is Vassilis Hadzic tonight. Yes, he was still playing when I lived in Greece in the mid eighties, but I had never heard of him. I didn’t follow the Greek League that closely, but now I wish I had had it by now. He has a crazy story, one that requires a short lesson in modern Greek history. After World War two, Greece had a civil war between the US backed government army and the East Bloc backed military arm of the Greek Communist Party husband Iesus. Parents were communist sympathizers, and after the government won the war in nineteen forty nine, they, along with tens of thousands of others, fled Greece as political refugees. They wound up in Tashkent in what is now Uzbekistan. That’s where the Greek Madonna was born in 1954. The local clubs competed for him as a kid and he debuted in the Soviet Premier League at age 17, Husaybah. Now he’s had a low center of gravity, insanely quick reflexes, and that magical ability to make the ball do impossible things. He fake defenders out of their jox. He spun and pivoted and jumped and stuttered and eluded. He was dubbed Noorie and he was mesmerizing, unstoppable to play in the Soviet League. Seven years had to become a Soviet citizen. He quickly made the Soviet national team and played in four qualifiers for the 1976 Olympics, but not the tournament itself, where the USSR won bronze because he decided to return to Greece. What happened was that in 1974, the military junta that had ruled Greece since the mid 1960s collapsed. Political refugees were allowed to come home. Husaybah Maggies was greeted by a huge crowd at the train station in the northern city of Thessaloniki, a safe landing for former refugees, where he joined the club tracklist. It was a mid table team, never a match for the big boys. On NPR correspondent tonight, Ghassan Ayaka down in Athens. But Husaybah Nagy’s was a transformative talent. Yet Achilles won the Greek Cup in his very first season. Big European clubs came after him. Arsenal, Porto, Lazio, Stuttgart, Roma. The Cosmos in New York did, too. At the same time that Barcelona was paying three million pounds to acquire Maradona from Argentina, Panathinaikos offered almost two million for hardship on a yes, but Lease refused all offers. Have you, I guess, was too valuable? And he had signed a contract that he tried to but couldn’t escape. He was stuck in Thessaloniki until his last game, a UEFA Cup match in nineteen ninety. It was the only European tournament game of his entire career. Husaybah Iesus international career was equally starcrossed. Shortly after arriving in Greece, he joined the. Tional team for a friendly against Poland, but because of those Olympic qualifiers for the Soviets, FIFA wouldn’t let him play for Greece again if not money, where the showcase of the world’s best leagues or the chance to play in a World Cup hutzpah, Panahi did at least get recognition. In 1984, he joined Franz Beckenbauer, Mario Campus and Other World All Stars in an exhibition against the Cosmos at Giants Stadium in front of 40000 people, a third or so of them Greek Americans. In 2004, he was named by UEFA as Greece’s golden player of the previous half century. But in the end, the Greek Madonna was a victim of politics, of business, of the rules of the time during which he played. I definitely believe that I have paid for my father’s political ideas to the end of his life, Hudzik and Guess said. In my career, everything was a mistake. Many say that others took advantage of my talent without me earning anything, and they are probably right. As if acknowledging the sadness won seven minute YouTube compilation of hardship, honor, he says. Wizardry. He really does compare to Madonna, including his moves, his build, his mop of long curly hair and his jersey. Number 10. That compilation is set to Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata. And there’s something wistful, too, about another tribute. A 1999 song by Lefteris Billets us titled EP at his Golden Age, Love Stolen Stars.
S13: But I get the feeling that CBS gave more than 50. They love stolen stars, but I cannot believe this time they got in us.
S4: You’re listening to my favorite line in their mess, slalom fantasy asset Connecticut, that the US slalom of dreams because he weaved with these three defenders and direct corner kicks, he scored directly off of corner kicks all the time. He did it seven times in one season, which is crazy, vasilis crazy. But I guess the Greek marijana sad story.
S14: A sad story. Well told. I also wonder about the goalkeeping in the Greek League that would allow him to score seven points directly from Corners. The single season seems not elite, but you know that not enough to take anything away from the Greek Murdunna.
S5: Those great soccer has a lot of wholesome songs, don’t they like? I noticed that in the Madonna documentary as well. Like that. Just very Murdunna. My mother, you know, my mother loves him, you know, that kind of stuff.
S2: Non wholesome songs does the whole, the whole gamut.
S6: Oh that’s a fair point. Yeah. The one in the stands. That’s true. Oops.
S2: That is our show for today. Our producer is Melissa Kaplan to listen to Pasha’s and subscribe or just reach out. Go to sleep dot com slash hang up. You can email us and hang up and sleep dot com. Don’t forget to subscribe to the show. Also rate and reviews on Apple podcast. Help us out for Joel Anderson, Stefan Fatsis, Josh Levine remembers MBT and thanks for listening.
S14: Now it is time for our bonus segment for Slate plus members, Saturday night for those lucky enough to have dropped forty nine ninety nine on the pay per view or watched pirated clips on various video streaming platforms, you got to see 54 year old Mike Tyson come back to the ring for the first time in 15 years against an older and more rotund Roy Jones Jr.. Now is only the common evangel.
S4: Rotund, younger than Tyson is only 51, right?
S14: Oh, look, I didn’t say rotund. I said more rotund.
S1: OK, comparatively. All right. All right.
S14: For fifty one, we all we all get older and there’s there’s no way to stare mortality in the face more directly than watch two old guys boxing. But as I said, only the Komen event, Jake Paul and Nate Robinson, you said Jake Paul like anybody else who he is.
S3: That would I mean, I’m that guy studiously avoided using the descriptor YouTube, OK, but he’s a guy who’s famous for being a dick, essentially brother of a dick, too.
S14: But he he gave Nate Robinson the business. So, Joel, if you were to kind of give the lay of the land to those who may be blessedly missed this event, like what’s your headline is that Snoop’s commentary is a Nate Robinson getting roasted by his fellow NBA players. Is it Iron Mike back in the ring?
S1: I got to be honest, I didn’t. I’ve only seen very few clips of the Mike Tyson Roy Jones junior fight. We can get back to that later. But yeah, I mean, Nate Robinson, man, you know, I’ve been talking about this with a buddy of mine going into it. I was like, you know, Nate Robinson, you know, five foot six, five foot seven, you know, a guy that played cornerback briefly and in college at the University of Washington, kind of a bad ass known for fighting players in the NBA, much taller. I was like, man, that guy, Jake. Paul, you might get fucked up, you know what I mean? Like, I mean, it seems like that’s a bad matchup.
S14: And we just did not have Robinson, one of the greatest athletes in our recent decades, pound for pound out of the boxing.
S1: People want to pound for pound ridge. Yeah. I mean, he’s credibly I mean, he credibly won a dunk contest, you know what I mean? Like, I mean, it’s not like he is that exceptional do. And I just thought, oh yeah. Who’s going to be able to contain all that athleticism in the ring. And I just did not. I should have known better. I should have had more respect for the art of boxing because fighting and boxing are two different things. And unfortunately, they probably saying, yeah, you’re right. And Nate Robinson unfortunately found out he fucked around and found out on Saturday night that you just can’t step into a ring man, even against some guy that is famous for being a dick on YouTube. That guy was much bigger than him, too, though. Did you guys look at the video? Like, I was like, oh, shit. Like Nate, is it a real size disadvantage here?
S4: I’m not sure why we’re talking about Jake Paul, Nate Robinson, when we could be talking about Mike Tyson and Rajan’s Jr., they look good. I mean, Rajan’s gender did not look as good as Mike Tyson. Mike Tyson looked good. He did. He’s fifty whatever. Fourteen, fifteen years. He still ripped.
S1: Man, he got ripped lately, by the way. Like that. That’s that’s it. Yeah. Yeah. These trainers. Right.
S14: I would I would maybe argue that Mike Tyson fighting at fifty four. Is the least sad 50 plus boxer performance and memory, like it’s not like watching that I didn’t come away thinking like somebody should have told him not to do this, like he’s clearly, like, lost his marbles, like he seems to have like for somebody who’s taken as many punches as he had, he seems like pretty aware of what he’s doing and why he’s doing it. It was an exhibition fight. So I think there are some limits there as to how much damage can be done. And so this was like a business decision made by someone who could, like, have defensively made this decision that it was like good for his bank account and that he was donating his entire paycheck from this to charity.
S1: Well, there you go. Wrong that million. So he didn’t even need it, OK? Yeah. You know, the thing is, is that I want Mike Tyson and Roy Jones Junior frozen in amber and this is my problem and not theirs. But like, you know, I mean, Mike Tyson got beat by somebody named Kevin McBride in his last fight, like quit on a stool. And, you know, at that point, watching Mike Tyson get knocked out by Lennox Lewis is like one of the more depressing sporting events of my lifetime. So I just kind of done I was like, you know, he was the baddest man on the planet for what I was a kid. And I just want to hold those memories. And then Roy Jones Jr., you know, probably the most talented boxer I’ve ever seen in my lifetime. And then he got knocked out, like, consecutively in 2003 at the worst 2004. Vinnie, I mean, I’m sure there’s somebody else that, like, you know, took it on the chin like he did. But I mean, he got knocked out in an in scary ways in 2004. And I was just like, OK, I’m kind of dumb. Roy Jones Junior, only to find out that he was fighting as recently as February twenty eighteen like I did not even I’d kind of forgotten that he was still like having a career. That is all this was happening. But I just, I couldn’t watch that man that just that seemed a little that seemed a little too sad. I’m sorry.
S3: I hear that. I think when we’ve talked about, about boxing with you jaw like it often comes up or like comes across our desks or comes to our attention when just something ridiculous and shameful happens. Like that’s kind of the place that boxing has and the sports world right now. And like there are people on Twitter being like for an event, you know, sponsored by weed maps featuring like YouTube or Jake Paul, the production value was kind of like surprisingly good. Like this is like boxing exceeding expectations. Oh my God. In twenty, twenty.
S14: And so, you know, for you, for somebody who’s grown up with the sport, who loves the sport, who’s watched it, and it’s like at its best when stuff like this happens and like people are talking about it, does it make you sad about like this is the spot that boxing is in in our culture, or are you just are you able to, like, kind of separate it out and like, take it for what it is, which is just like, you know, there’s a lot of ridiculous shit happens in the world. And maybe this isn’t just like a blight on boxing per say.
S1: I don’t think it is. Yeah, I mean, I’m I’m fine if this is the the the quickest million that Mike Tyson and Roy Jones Junior can make. And in doing that way, I’m fine with it. Like, I don’t I don’t want to yuck anybody else’s youm on this. And I mean and and I would say is like, yo, like people that like boxing when they’re big boxing fights, like people turn out and watch it, you know what I mean? Like, you know, you could get triple G, you know, the ER Earl Spencer, Terence Crawford, like people that like boxing watch boxing and I watch it too. There’s nothing preventing those people. Those those people are making a lot of money fighting on pay per views and in other formats. So like I’ve never bought into like boxing is, as you know, and in dire straits as people brought up. And like with someone, this kind of shit happens. I’m like, oh, it’s fun to laugh it. I mean, you know, we can we can all laugh at Nate Robinson and it doesn’t have to being that boxing is nearing its end. Right.
S4: I mean, Muhammad Ali fought Antonio Enoki. I mean, this has been going on forever. It’s not like we’re in boxing. Exhibitions are unique to, you know, to boxing and its decline. They were happening boxing in its heyday. You know, the weird thing here, of course, is that it’s like two fifty year old guys and you’re, you know, have already taken thousands of blows to the head over decades of their lives. And they’re back in the ring. You know, one of the one of the commentators that in that clip that you sent around of a post fight, interviews and analysis was like at the end of the day, no one got hurt. And I guess you could say that about any boxing match. And it would be a lie because someone always gets hurt. And I’m sure Roy Jones and Mike Tyson were hurt in some way. I mean, maybe nobody died. That’s always good. But the interview was a definite highlight. The post-flight interview with Jim Gray talking to both boxers. Still in their shorts on a stage and there are some just classic lines there, I think my favorite is was Roy Jones Jr. saying, thanking my Russian citizens, my Russian people. You know what he was talking about?
S1: Oh, do you know that he’s like I think he works for like Russia today or whatever. Like there’s a there’s a news story about about Roy Jones Jr. and how he’s been establishing himself in Russia in the last few years. And I don’t think I’m talking out of school when I say that, but I’m maybe typing now because. Yeah, he’s a Russian citizen. Yeah, right. Yeah, it’s it’s true. I miss this. Yeah. Rojos just having a very strange third act to life. Wow. Yeah.
S4: And then Jim Gray was like sympathizing with Jones, asking him if he felt OK and had been hurt. And Mike Tyson says why nobody care about my ass because you kick his ass. Apparently, officially it was a draw.
S3: Yeah. I don’t know if there’s anything official about an exhibition fight, but if you want to if you want to say that officially it was a draw, I’m not going to correct.
S4: There were celebrity judges, apparently. Oh, there were. Yeah.
S3: You know, even well, if you want to watch this head over to YouTube dotcom and spend a few minutes amusing yourself, try not to watch it on Jake Paul’s YouTube account, because I don’t think he needs anymore to do that.
S5: He doesn’t need any more support.
S4: Try to find it from another guy and watch the Snoop commentary, too, which was excellent. Two of my uncles fighting at the barbecue, I think. What’s his line, Snoop?
S5: You are that uncle now. I mean, you’re an old man, but I just don’t pretend that somebody else’s uncle in this equation.
S3: Thank you, sleepless members, for listening to us this week and always will be back with more next week.