The Coronavirus and Sports Edition

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S1: The following podcast contains explicit language. Hide your children.

S2: Hello, I’m Josh Levine, Slate’s national editor and the author of The Queen, this is Hang Up and Listen for the week of March 2nd, two thousand and twenty. On this week’s show, we’re gonna discuss the rise of 19 year old basketball demi-god Zion Williamson plus to discuss the legends and the myths of the NFL scouting combine. And finally, we will assess how the spread of the Corona virus will affect sports around the world. And don’t panic. We’re going to have this conversation, a sane and levelheaded manner, at least i–well. Joining me in our D.C. studio is Stefan FATSIS is the author of the book Word Freak and A Few Seconds of Panic. Don’t panic. Oh, you didn’t tell everybody. We’re doing this from inside a sealed bubble. Hang up and listen, Bunker. How will this affect your favorite sports podcast? We hope this guy’s in the plastic bubble. We are. Joining us from Palo Alto to Frontline’s it’s Slate staff writer and the host of Slow Burn Season 3, Joel Anderson. Hello, John.


S3: Good morning. This is why you guys should feel really grateful that I’m not in studio since I am at ground zero of the Corona virus outbreak here in the states.

S4: Santa Clara County with this conversation has just taken on a tenor of extraordinary sanity from the very beginning. So to continue to continue.


S5: Before we start the show proper, Stefan, we wanted to give an update on our last segment from last week on ultra runner Jim Walmsley. What happened in the Olympic marathon trials?

S6: He did not qualify for the Olympic team. Hammett No, no. Huge let down. He might be getting dragged a little bit on. Let’s run. Com. According to Joseph Being Khan, who we interviewed on the show last week, who did a Q&A with Warmsley on Sunday. The race was on Saturday and that will post on Slate on Monday. Wamsley seemed to be in great spirits. He ran up to 15 0 5, finishing 22nd out of something like 300 competitors in the field who had qualified. He was in sort of the second group for the first twelve or thirteen miles of the race, 14 miles of the race. And then he fell back and he was really pleased with his performance, is that it was really windy, very hilly, was the first time he had run a marathon classic ultra runner, just making excuses about the conditions that said he wished there were more rocks and gravel and snow and tree branches that would have helped him out a little bit more.


S7: But assessing his performance like he ran a 250 marathon in his first try, what was really interesting to me about the Q and A is the way he talks about the marathon. It’s like, yeah, it was kind of fun. It’ll get me ready for the 50 and 100 mile road races that I’m going to be doing in a few months. Not sure I want to do this again. But you know, it was good warm up for what’s coming.

S5: Yeah. I mean, Joel, we talked last week about the kind of outlier performances, like if everything goes right, he could qualify if everything goes wrong. But this just seems like totally down the middle like he did well, really respectably for the first time, he ran a marathon, finished and like the top 10 percent of runners and didn’t qualify for the Olympics. That seemed pretty good.


S3: If you were looking in either way for something to be mad about and to make fun of him about, it just didn’t quite happen. But what was the tweet that we saw that said something to the effect that what we really look forward to him turning it on it, my lady.

S4: So he’s still running? Yes.

S6: So he decided to run the home from Atlanta to Colorado. The winning time was 2 0 9 20. That was Galen Rupp, former Nike, Oregon project runner. And Warmsley had something to say about Rupp in that Q and A to not a big found lot of runners, not a big fan of the Nike, Oregon project.


S3: I just love the idea of this internal marathon. An ultra marathon beef that people have is a whole world of beef that I was unaware of until now.

S5: Now, you know. All right. We’ll post that Q&A with Warmsley on our show page on Sunday night in New Orleans, Zion Williamson scored a career high. It’s been a short career, but a career high. Thirty five points in 33 minutes in the Pelicans, 122 to 114 loss to the Lakers. The Lakers have LeBron James. LeBron James is very good. LeBron James was better than very good on Sunday. He played unbelievably well. But forget about LeBron. He’s been around for a long time. Back to Zion. He’s now scored more than 20 points and eleven straight games. That is a record for a teenager in the first fifteen games of his career, which are also his first 15 games after returning from knee surgery. He’s averaging 24 points in just twenty nine minutes per outing. There are a lot more numbers we could toss around. All of which make it very clear that Zion is a generational talent. But for the NBA, he’s something more than that. He is a generational personality. Joel, he’s someone you want to watch and talk about. And so here we are. We’re watching him and we’re talking about him. What are your thoughts on Zion, either on the game on Sunday or just more broadly?


S3: There’s a couple of things that come to mind. I think it’s a testament to his eye and talent and. Pushing so far that LeBron was as locked in as he was last night, that he clearly has LeBron’s attention. Not that it’s unusual for LeBron to play great.

S8: But LeBron had a triple double and was engaged in intense in a way that you don’t normally see it like game 57 or whatever it is of the regular season.

S5: Yeah, it’s a great point. And Anthony Davis also wasn’t playing for the Lakers, so LeBron had to write play at like peak peak LeBron in order for the Lakers to beat a Pelicans team that’s playing really well.


S3: Right. A team that’s in the running for the eighth playoff spot. But that doesn’t tell the true story of how well the pelicans have played over the last twenty to thirty games.

S8: And the other piece of it is that I’m just reminded that Zion is such a magnetic, charismatic personality that he was a dude that got me to root for Duke last year and got a lot of other people that are not necessarily Duke fans to root for Duke and that people want to see him and they want to see him succeed. And I wonder how long that’s going to last, because at some point everybody goes through the rising star star then sort of antihero story arc. And that’ll happen for Zion at some point. But right now, he’s just a fascinating, charismatic, just a good dude, seemingly, at least from a distance. I believe the NBA wouldn’t have had the ratings concerns and all these other things that people have been talking about over this season.


S9: If he had been playing from game one, I’m going to push back a little on the charismatic part. He is an incredibly magnetic talent and people want to watch him because he is so great and so different on the court as a marketing star or as a media personality. He’s nowhere near that yet. He is very, very really.

S10: I disagree really watching him talk. I mean, he seems very nice, even very sincere and very sweet and very genuine.

S4: Marketers hate sweetness and joy. No, no, no, no.

S7: I’m just saying he’s not super interesting as a person yet. You can see those flashes of youth that he is predominately a young kid that says very anodyne things right now. You know, he said about playing against LeBron James for the first time. It was a great experience. He’s an incredible player. His resumé speaks for itself. I hate it when I make mistakes. He talked about the standard he holds himself to. Those are all nice things to say, but it’s not like I’m watching Zion Williamson because I want to see what he’s going to say after the game or if he’s going to do something interesting on social media. It’s that he’s fucking unbelievable on the basketball court.


S11: You have a kind of bizarre understanding of what it takes to be a marketing behemoth. And also like reading what he says on the page does not fairly kind of represent what it’s like to watch him and listen him on the court. Yogurt kind of naturally drawn to him. He seems like a genuinely nice, yes, good person that everyone absolu- loves. He has a great kind of spirit around him and marketing, whether it’s people receiving marketing or people that are marketers. They don’t want people who are expressing complex ideas like Michael Jordan, particularly well-known for being nuanced and interesting. No, he was known for being graceful and amazing to watch on the court and off the court. You know, Madison Avenue projected all these ideas onto him and Zion, based on what you’ve described, as essentially like a blank slate. And we can just like project all of our, like, good feelings on him because he just does seem like such a benevolent presence.


S12: I think that’s fair enough. That’s a good argument, Josh.. Thank you.

S3: See, just offensive, of course, it’s you know, about a New Orleans sports star.

S13: PESCA Actually, it was messaging me last night and saying it’s funny that the Pelicans are your favorite NBA team and Duke is your least favorite college team, which is accurate.

S4: And the Pelicans are essentially Duke. You know, they’ve got JJ Redick, Zion, Brandon Ingram, Frank Jackson, Jahlil Okafor. It’s like the entire roster is Duke.

S12: So it’s really the Jersey and Chayefsky that you hate. Yeah, that’s a good argument from you and their fans and their fans and their fans.

S6: Yeah, but back to LeBron. I mean, it was weird the run up to the game. Yeah, I was. It was you know, LeBron made a point of saying last week, I’ve never met him. I’ve never met him before. Never, never had a conversation with him. Never met him. Never for never, never. I was just kind of bizarre because he has gone out of his way to heap praise on other young players in the league. You know, he was on the court hugging Jamarat the other night, whispering in his ear, telling him, I’ll do anything for you on or off the court, whatever you need. Being that real mentor or a father figure. And you didn’t see that before last night after the game when he and Zion did talk on the court. And it made me wonder. Joel, I mean, LeBron’s a competitive dude. This is a player that can compete with him and potentially and maybe this goes back to what you’re saying, the beginning that maybe this was why LeBron. Really show it out on Sunday night.

S3: I think there is a piece of that. And I recall Michael Jordan speech, you know, about Kobe Bryant doing the memorial, about how Kobe annoyed him at first because he was so clearly not a threat, but that he was so clearly trying to imitate him. And I wonder if there’s sort of a similar dynamic here in that Bryan looks at Zion, a guy who’s basically just out of high school, a basically unprecedented athlete, dominant from the start and has this charisma that we’ve all agreed now that he possesses. And he looks at him and says, wow, that guy, he’s already a threat. Looking at the game last night, it was clear that the two best players on the floor were LeBron and Zion. And normally nobody could have expected a 19 year old to be that good in a high level NBA game already. So I wonder if there’s some of that, but also thought about something else. So I remember last year when Zion and Duke played against Virginia and LeBron, and I can’t remember if it was Maverick Carter or Rich Paul who were in the stands that night.

S8: And, you know, it seemed like, oh, well, if Zion declares for the pros or declares for the NBA at the end of this year, there’s a real shot that he might sign with Rich Paul in Clutch Sports Agency. And I wonder if LeBron is being really careful around that, because there’s all this talk about him being sort of the secretive hand behind the clutch sports agency and so that he’s going in the opposite direction to say, hey, I don’t have a relationship with that guy at all. I don’t know anything about him. I just wonder if that’s sort of what undergirds this like awkwardness that they seem to have publicly.


S6: And then what happened to other things? One is Zion, rather, did time with Nike, but he signed with the Jordan brand. So he’s not wearing LeBron shoes. And the other part of this that I thought was interesting is that I wonder whether LeBron was waiting for Zion to reach out to him. He made a comment to ESPN. LeBron did, saying that he has an open door policy. And clearly, Zion hadn’t knocked on that door.

S5: Yeah. And I think LeBron is compared to the superstars of previous generations. Way more open to mentorship and friendship with younger players, whether it’s Charm, Grant or anybody else. And LeBron also by comparison with whether it’s Jordan or anybody else, is, I think, way more complimentary of younger players, including Zion. It’s not like he’s ever said anything negative about Zion. It’s just more that it does seem like maybe Zion, for whatever reason, hasn’t taken advantage of the LeBron James open door policy for a young NBA players. But I want to get back a little bit to this idea of Zion’s charisma. Because when LeBron talks about the NBA being in good hands with young players, he mentions the following Siân Jamarat, Traian Luca, non-Church, Jason Tatum and T.L. also, as mentioned, Donovan Mitchell. Sometimes I think out of that group, Luca Doncha is the best player at this point and has the best kind of accomplishments on the court. Zion is by far and away, I think the biggest draw and attraction and player of interest to the kind of casual fans. And I think you could even throw in johnis there. And Yanis is the best player in the NBA, maybe the best kind of physical specimen in the history of basketball.


S11: And he is and should be appointment television. And yet I still think there’s more interest in Zion than even in. And I’m curious, Joel, a.D.A. Agree with that. And B, why do you think that is?

S3: That’s a really tough thing about Zion. The advantage that he has that not a lot of other players had, including Luca, is that we saw him three or four years ago when he was a high schooler in South Carolina. I had heard his eye on Williamson when he was dunking on private school kids in Spartanburg, you know, and so we got familiar with him in his game at a very young, undefined, raw age. And so that helped to build some of the anticipation around him. Not only did he live up to expectations, he surpassed them.

S5: Right. I mean, going into Duke, RJ Barrett was the presumptive number one pick in the draft.

S8: Right. I mean, and I don’t have to look back at the old pre-draft rankings for that year before they even went into their freshman year. I’m not even sure that Zion was a top five, you know, prospect at that point, because the concern was, well, he’s not really that tall. He’s not long. He didn’t have a jump shot that anybody respected at that point. So there was a lot of holes in supposed defects in his game that wouldn’t necessarily translate. And then he dominated college basketball. And it reminds me that RJ Baird shot too damn much last year. And already in the NBA, he is shown to be the best teen ager in the history of the NBA. And that’s just like fascinating in a way that maybe Luca isn’t who it would just now getting familiar with. He plays in a market that is a big media market. But even when the Mavericks won the NBA championship, it’s not like they captivated the NBA.


S5: Yeah, but I mean, Lucas is doing things at his age. That nobody else has ever done, putting up triple doubles the Mavericks. By some measures have the greatest offense in NBA history. Yeah, this year he’s unbelievably good. And New Orleans is, you know, the kind of definitional small market. I mean, I think the simplest explanation, Stefan, is that Zion’s really good at dunking. Know, it’s maybe not why everyone is so as obsessed with him, but that’s kind of what got him on the radar. And he just creates these highlights that are better than like any individual Luca Don Chuch highlight. If you watch the entire Mavericks game, which like how many of us are going to do like NBA ratings are down, like people consume sports increasingly through highlights and Zion creates the best highlights and has created the best highlights. As Joel said, for years. Right.

S6: So what do you want to watch? Luca hitting a 38 footer over some guy or Zion nearly bringing down the backboard? Zion nearly bringing down the backboard. I mean, that’s your point, Joel, about, you know, why wasn’t Zion rated higher in high school? I mean, it could have been a combination of those things. You mentioned them. He’s got that awkward running style, that weird gait.

S9: Maybe people looked at him and think this is going to translate to the highest level of basketball. And then his shoe exploding at Duke. I think also helped to sort of solidify our impression of him as this hulk like creature like blowing out of his clothing. He is so strong. I was reading a piece in The New York Times by Jere Longman from a couple of weeks ago that talked about the risks to Zion and his knees and the concerns about his biomechanics. And there was one paragraph in there about how a sports performance company had tested Zion while he was in high school using a ballistic jumping drill that roughly mimics rebounding and long and writes the force that Williamson exerted into the ground. The doctor test that he said was greater than for any NBA player or other professional athlete that his company had tested. Like this is a superhuman human.


S5: Yeah. I mean, the only person in Doris Burke mentioned this in the broadcast on ESPN on Sunday. The only player he’s gone up against that could stand up to him physically is Yanis. And Zion had the poorest shooting game that he’s had against the box. He’d had ripped the ball away from Giannis once, but that was a good highlight. That was a good highlight, but kind of on balance throughout the whole game, Giannis dominated him physically in the way that Zion dominates everyone else physically, which again just like points up to me that Giannis is you know, he’s the reigning MVP. He has the amazing nickname. I think he’s generally appreciated. It’s understood how amazing he is, and yet maybe it’s less about we should appreciate Giannis more and more. Just like this is an indication of how mythic Zion is that like even in the face of all of this, he still kind of stands alone as the most charismatic and dynamic NBA player prospect since LeBron.

S8: And it’s sort of terrifying to think. You know, we’re only about 20 games into his NBA career, right? Actually, we’re 15 and we have a lot more to go in. There was a moment last night at the end of the game after the LeBron meeting he had where he took his jersey off, gave it to JaVale McGee. And I’m a 41 year old man. I shouldn’t say this about anybody. But I notice he was soft. He was a little soft in his torso. I was just thinking, when Zion is able to spin hundreds of thousands of dollars on his own body and go through professional training, his body is going to look totally different. It’ll be amazing to think about what kind of athlete he will be. We’ve seen Giannis Janis’s at the height of, you know, athleticism in the NBA. But when Zion has a chance to go through that sort of training, how terrifying he’s going to be.


S12: And he didn’t ask for JaVale Jersey, right? He gave his jersey to JaVale like a fake. It was a one way exchange. It is pretty. NBA players are routinely exchanging jerseys now. Yeah, I love that. Yeah. Soccer to America.

S5: One last thing is that LeBron actually guarded Zion at the very end of the game. He didn’t throughout. And Zion kind of flipped down a little short jumper over him. But it seemed like if LeBron had been guarding Zion the whole game, Zion maybe would have had a little bit of trouble as opposed to how he was kind of messing around with Kyle Kuzma. Maybe I was just being smart because it was only LeBron and no Anthony Davis and they wanted to preserve his body. But that is also just kind of a concession that like, all right, even LeBron’s not going to be able to withhold the wear and tear of guarding Zion, Williams said the whole game, right.

S10: It’s not worth it long term for the season if he needs to guard him, maybe in the playoffs.

S14: Some call it the Underwear Olympics. Others, including my wife, think through the lens of America’s racial history and call it something much more comfortable. But I’ll mention if you ever catch me in private. Just think about the visual dynamics here. Mostly white male executives closely inspecting the bodies of young black men. SIDERIS, who they’ll buy anyway. The NFL annual draft combine came to a close Sunday in Indianapolis. It was a semi official start of the pre-draft season where teams look for reasons to talk themselves out of Lamar Jackson and into Josh Allen. There’s the short schoettle, the vertical jump, the broad jump three. Coan drew the two and a twenty five pound bench press, the 40 yard dash in a variety of positional drills. There’s also lots of other boring but important stuff we don’t necessarily see on television, including team interviews, medical exams and measurements. In fact, I knew the silly season really got its start when the dress presumptive number one pick quarterback Joe Baro of LSU jokingly tweeted about retiring following the results of his hand measurement, which apparently was suboptimal that only nine inches fingered a thumb. And his Wall Street Journal’s Jason Gay pointed out burls hands or half inch smaller than last year’s number one pick collar Mary and a quarter inch smaller than the previous number one. Baker Mayfield. Stefan is a former NFL player yourself. Do you think Varro was somehow manage to become a decent NFL QB despite having hands the size of a civilians?


S6: I wore a size 6 cleats in my summer in Denver just for the record, and I have eight and a quarter inch hands, but I really jammed my foot. I don’t really upsize six feet. My shoes are size nine. I don’t think half size really matters. I think that’s been effectively proven by others studies results. But it’s classic combined material. We’ve talked about this on this program before. I think we even measured our hands one year. Josh We did, yeah. And it’s perfect. Combine material. This is absolute silly season and we can talk about the efficacy of the utility of the combine and whether this matters at all. In evaluating NFL prospects, ultimately you have to go into discussing and watching the combine. Understanding that this is programming more than anything else, the NFL has realized that people will watch these amazing athletes run 40 yards and do shuttle drills and bench press £225.

S13: So I think it’s really easy to mock the league for this hand size thing. And in fairness, like Adam Schefter, who, if anyone, is kind of the official organ of the NFL media, it’s him like he was reporting that there were concerns about concerns Sparrow’s hand size. But as you noted, Joel, the guys who are the top picks in the last couple drafts, Cuyler, Mary and Baker Mayfield had relatively small hands. And so we’re kind of mocking them. But it doesn’t even seem like NFL executives take this very seriously. And so I think there is maybe a tendency for us to think that NFL decision makers are dumber than they actually are. And maybe there’s a tendency of the NFL media to think that NFL executives are dumber than they actually are. But if you like, actually read this long piece that Dave Fleming dead for ESPN on the myth of quarterback can size. There is a different phenomenon that I wanted to talk about, which is the lead of this story is this quarterback, Brandon Allen, who had like even smaller hands than Joe Brown. He was an eight. It was embarrassing. And then he talked about Allen dead getting like massage therapy so he could, like, stretch his hands out further. And this is a phenomenon of teaching to the test. It is doing specific training, whether it’s for the 40 yard dash or the bench press or in this case, something as idiotic as measuring your hand. Things that have no relation at all to how you do on the field and how you play as a quarterback.


S11: And yet there is this kind of social pressure to get massage therapy on your hand. So it appears more normal. And so the point I’m trying to make is that when you make these measurements as important as they’ve become, then you start doing specific training to get specific scores. And it really has nothing at all to do with how you played in college or how you play in the NFL. And so that, I think, is the risk that the NFL is taking here by making the combine so important.

S9: Right? Well, the NFL is building on its own image and reputation for thoroughness. We need to know every measurable about every potential employee, and that includes hand size and whatever other slave like measurements, proportional representations of these future employees that we want to take at this auction. And that’s what’s gross about it. You know, the NFL wants us to believe that all of this is important and wants us to see all of it so that we can pretend we’re evaluating these players as well.

S3: If you go. Back and I was reading a piece on ESPN about how Mike Mumbler was sort of the one of the first people to game the system by preparing. This is 1995. Mike Momolu, defensive end out of Boston College, who ended up being a first round draft pick by the Philadelphia Eagles. And he got drafted very high because he was one of the first people that was a breakout combine star. He, you know, had a thirty eight point five inch vertical. Twenty six reps on two and twenty five pound bench press had a Wonderlic score. Forty nine. You know, I think ran a four, five, eight. He did all these things that at the time seemed really incredible. And he figured out on how to game the system. So at this point, twenty five years later, I think the value of the combine is that it’s a job interview. And as much as anything else, NFL teams just want to see, hey, did you prepare? Are you going to take it seriously at this point? The median NFL player is so much more athletic and faster, stronger, smarter, better at all this stuff and better prepared than they were in the past. And so if you fall outside of that norm, that’s what they need to know. That’s what they want to find out. They may not think of it in that way, but for the NFL now, I think that’s sort of the value.


S9: And Josh, isn’t it also true that they’ve already got so much film, so much data, so much information about players? It’s not like this is really necessary. It’s helpful, as you said, Joel, as a sort of job interview, as a way to bring all these players together in one place. But in terms of the data, they could get that in other ways from their college coaches, from the training facilities they go to. There’s a lot of numbers out there about these athletes. And a lot of the studies of combined value have demonstrated that the most predictive part of success in the NFL is success at the college level.

S5: Sure. I mean, it is useful just to have everybody in the same place. It just more efficient that way rather than having to go to all these different guys pro days. And I understand why teams would want to see stuff for themselves rather than thinking that, you know, guys would like game the system with these numbers if they were just reporting them on their own. But back to that. Mike Mobile, a story which was really good, I thought, and the story on hand sized both of these where ESPN stories, just ESPN.

S11: I’m gonna make a incredibly new and brave point here. ESPN is really big in sports media. They kind of control a lot of the narratives that are dispensed. And so on one hand, you have Adam Schefter, who’s behind this report about Joe Baro and his hands. That’s like leading on ESPN dot com. It’s on all like the ESPN shows. And you have these like really smart features, like a lot of the background reading that I think we all did about whether it’s combined myths or what combine things to take seriously. That’s all produced by ESPN too. But it’s like the one hand doesn’t know what the other hand is doing. And it seems like it’s intentional, so to speak, so to speak, because if every ESPN piece or every like TV story there was Don was like also layered with the kind of statistical overviews and the like, more sanity inducing stuff about here’s the stuff that actually matters. Here is the stuff you need to know. Here’s what history says then. Just like a lot of these reports that draw the most interest or the most salacious, which is get totally deflated.


S6: Well, there wouldn’t be a place for someone to say on television. We have found a flaw in Joe Burgh before the combine really gets underway, which is what Adam Schefter said about his Nine Inch Nails, probably a little bit tongue in cheek, but he still said it.

S15: You know, the one thing about it is that it is really good television. I mean, is really good data.

S8: I know that the combine is stupid and we’ve talked about the reasons that, you know, the drills don’t necessarily translate into anything approximating what you’re going to be doing in the NFL. But you’re watching a six foot three, two hundred and thirty nine pound linebacker run four point three nine seconds. It’s unbelievable.

S4: Other than the Olympics, this is probably the event where sprinting gets like the most pub. Yeah. This is made for you.

S3: I was thinking about. So that used to be the superstars that used to run on ABC.

S6: It was in my notes. This would be better if it were the superstars. I would see.

S15: This reminds me. I do too.

S11: Who do you think would win in a race between like Al Green Prince? Like who would be fastest of our kind of like R&B and Saúl superstars, but really out of character for them to be sprinting?

S12: I mean, James Brown was in pretty peak physical condition.

S16: Yeah, we know that Prince is a good basketball player. Courted Rick James. Dave Chappelle. Yeah. And he was the sixth man on his high school basketball team. So, you know, maybe a sneaky good athlete.

S5: Anyway, back to the show. So this is the moment when sprinting really gets its time.


S6: And, you know, we’re very excited about that. Joel, you tweeted about this guy, Kenneth Murray of Missouri City, Texas. You’re very happy about that manhood.

S15: That’s right. Yeah. I mean, these 230 something pounds. Ran a 4 5 2. It’s just fascinating to look at all these guys that I’ve been looking at and jerseys and uniforms for the last three to four years. You know that they’re good. You can watch them play. But it’s another thing to see them stripped of all the uniform and just see how amazingly athletic they are. There were 10 linebackers that ran for five night faster at the combine. When I was growing up, linebackers looked like, you know, Bobby Knight, you know, I mean, something like that, like it was still great athletes. But Michael Singletary doesn’t look anything like what Isaiah symptons looks like. We could see the evolution of the athlete. The NFL combine in ways that may not be apparent on the field. That’s what I just think is amazing watching all these guys. They had a £360 dude run a 5 1 in the 40 this weekend.

S13: You know, guy Bactine. Give the guys some love. He’s the guy. I mean, war. There’s always the like breakout combined superstar, whether it’s Henry rugs running in the 40s or a big guy like Beckton running faster than somebody who is that large should be able to run. And that’s interesting.

S6: The other thing about the combine that’s fun because it’s entertainment is, you know, you’re introduced to a name like Javelin Guidry. I ran for three living up to his name twice or that you mentioned Henry Rugs. This viral video of him playing basketball in high school starts to circulate.


S17: Why would somebody who runs fast and his name Javelin, live up to his name?

S7: Javelin, you throw that thing hard. It’s a it’s a little arrow going through the air. Joel, the. I got it. He got it.

S13: It would make sense if he had a really good broad jump.

S5: But the thing that I found most useful in everything that I read on the combine and its efficacy was written by Brian Burke again on ESPN. Brian Burke, who is the creator, the fourth down bot, among other things, one of their analytics guys wrote about how he thinks the combine is actually undervalued by a lot of evaluators.

S11: And he made the really good point that there’s something called bersin’s paradox. And the example that’s often cited is that if you are dating people that are some minimal combination of being attractive and having a nice personality. I’m quoting from here the paradox helps explain why the ones with the best personalities don’t appear so attractive and the attractive ones don’t always seem so pleasant. And the way that manifest itself in the combine is that the guys that get invited and don’t run very fast. The reason that they’re invited is because they’re really good at football. He cites somebody like Antoine Boldon, who ran the slowest 40 hour dash time of any receiver theory, came out for 72 and had an amazing NFL career because he was really good at the things that aren’t measured by a test, whether that’s something like route running or just having a really great understanding of the game. But basically, Joel, if you get invited to this, that means you have a really good college career. It’s almost like if you don’t show out at the combine, you should like take a closer look. It’s like, OK. Then why are you so good as a player? Like, what are we not seeing?


S3: You think about a guy like AJ Dillon, a running back from Boston College. You had a very good college career, but sort of has been under the radar and hasn’t quite been considered one of the top running backs in the draft. And then you see, he’s this fantastic athlete. You you’re like, oh, wow, he’s two under forty seven pounds and ran a four and had all these other great testing results. And you. Oh that explains a lot of it. So I think it works in all sorts of ways. It explains why some guys were good in some ways. You know, guys that don’t perform well, like you say, you can go and look and say, OK, there must be something else that we’re missing, whether they have a great grasp of the game. They were put in a position by their coaches that helped them to excel. There’s also that. So you learn a lot about it, I think. I think I think the combine is valuable. I just why people think it’s silly. But I think that you can actually take a lot from it and extrapolate a lot, maybe not a lot, but at least a little going forward in the NFL.

S9: Right. And we just don’t know how much front offices actually invest in combined results in terms of making decisions. There’s been a lot of studies about the efficacy of the particular drills on the combine overall for more than a decade. Now, I was surprised at how much analysis there had been. And I think one of the studies, the most comprehensive one, concluded that about 20 to 25 percent predictive ability. So there is some value there in terms of performance.


S13: And that’s if you combine the results in a bunch of different drills right on.

S9: Look, I one and like some drills are completely useless, like the shuttle drill doesn’t predict anything, but other drills are more valuable. And let’s not overlook that. Ultimately, a lot of the combine is just fun, like watching that punter. The jacked punter I’m says is your favorite guy.

S7: My favorite guy. I love this guy, Michael Turk. Arizona State. He’s coming out early to go into the NFL. He’s a punter. Hunters don’t often get drafted at all.

S13: 25 reps of 225 on the bench press. If he ever gets like trapped under a bunch of rocks, as punters often do.

S6: Yes, he’s got our video of the punter of the jacked punter lifting those twenty five. Everyone’s cheering him on. There’s a lot of camaraderie, a lot of bonding.

S16: Everyone loves a jacked banter. It’s nice to see you out lifting Joe Davian Clowney, which, I mean, you know, absurd to think about.

S6: But yeah, he lifted more than twenty one of twenty three running backs, twenty five of twenty seven linebackers, twenty one of thirty eight defensive linemen and nineteen of thirty nine offensive linemen. Maybe the punter shouldn’t be punting.

S11: I wanted to let you know that in our bonus segment for Slate Plus members, we’re going to talk about whether Tom Brady really, truly is going to play for a non Patriots football in today next season. It could happen if you want to hear us talk about it. And you’re not a slate plus member can sign up. It’s just $35 for the first year at Slate dot com slash Hang-Up.


S18: Plus, in less than five months, thousands of athletes and tens of thousands of spectators, reporters and rich dudes in blue blazers are scheduled to gather in Japan for the 2020 Summer Olympics. Five months is a long time, but also not especially when the spread of the Corona virus has effectively shut down sports in Japan. The Tokyo Marathon on Sunday was limited to elite runners, not the usual horde of 40000 or so pre-season baseball games were played in empty stadiums. Japan’s top soccer league canceled 94 matches through March 15th and the grand sumo tournament scheduled to start next Sunday, will be held without spectators. Publicly, the International Olympic Committee last week said what you’d expect. Preparations continue as planned. Totally normal to consult with World Health Organization’s nothing to see here. Privately, the sport crats are no doubt sweating through their ascots. Josh, when we’re talking about a global pandemic, sports should be the last of our concerns. Possibly. But then you realize that it’s like a bellwether if people can’t gather to watch sumo. Things must be really bad.

S13: Yeah, in large public gatherings are the thing that it makes sense to try to curtail it, even though there’s scientific evidence that it’s not the large gatherings that are really the problem.

S6: What is just being in much closer contact than sitting next to someone in a stadium? Apparently, according to some doctors that were quoted in a Wall Street Journal piece.

S19: So in a large gathering, you will have lots of people sitting in close proximity to each other. And I think you’re right to describe it as a bellwether, because sports take themselves very seriously and we take sports very seriously. And it’s considered almost like absurd to imagine canceling a game under any circumstances like after Kobe Bryant’s death, when so many players were so clearly affected by it. The games must go on. Right. And it’s just not in anyone’s, you know, first order or second order thinking that cancellation is is the thing to do. And so when it starts happening, you know, in the top division, an Italian soccer canceling a game between events and interim Milan, like that’s a huge deal in Italy. And so it’s something, you know, to monitor and North America and to see when and if we start to see cancellations or serious talk of them, then we’ll know that we’ve entered either a new phase with the virus or a new phase in terms of how seriously we’re taking it as a society.


S20: Yes, I think we’re trying to get a sense for who’s going to be the first person to sort of pull the trigger, like with the first the first big domino to fall in. And, you know, speaking personally, there’s somebody that, you know, is supposed to be going to south by southwest in Austin in a couple of weeks. Right. And we saw Sunday night, you know, I’m sitting there looking at Twitter, and I see that Jack Dorsey is pulling out of south by southwest Twitter. House is gonna be closed at South by Southwest, which is something I don’t know what the hell it is. It sounds amazing, but you’re going to be a thing there. I like Twitter and like a lot of people. But, you know, you get a sense that, OK, it is getting serious, but we’ll know how serious it is when the first big games, the first big events get called off. And like the idea that we’re even having a conversation about the Olympics being cancelled is almost so surreal that you can’t wrap your head around it. Right. So, yeah, I think I’m just waiting to see who is going to be that one. And it is worth noting that we have sort of been through this before. And in fact, I was in Baltimore when they canceled the Orioles games in the wake of the LA riots after the Freddie Gray death. They had that game that they played before nobody arts between the Chicago White Sox. And this is a very weird. I don’t know how many sports teams would be willing. Do that or how many sports leagues would be willing to go through something like that?


S18: Well, if you look at the rest of the world, I mean, it’s already happening. They’ve been basically sports in China and Japan are shut down at this point. There’s a moto race in Catarrh that’s been called off because a lot of those teams that compete there are Italian. The Paris Marathon on Sunday was canceled. Soccer matches in South Korea have also been called off a road race in the United our Emirates canceled the Zero Italia up in the air. Tennis events canceled in Italy and China. The badminton German open and Vietnam open and Polish open have been called off. So it’s in the rest of the world. They’re getting there already because of the threat has already been sort of documented at a much higher level than it has been in the United States. But, you know, the thing that I wonder about as is the fear of calling stuff off in this country, both the economic impact and the psychological impact is that going away on weather events do get canceled and leagues take that first step. As you said, Joel, which league is going to be the first to step up and say the risk is too great? There are so many factors. Television, sponsorship, stadiums, salaries still have to be paid that are going to pressure leagues not to do things. So it’s going to take, I think, an extraordinary level of concern and fear to push them to call things off.

S19: The National College Players Association, which is the group that’s been really pushing unionization for college athletes, put out a statement saying the NCAA should consider holding March Madness NCAA tournament without crowds present. There is precedent. The 2003 Women’s World Cup was moved from China to the United States because of SaaS, and that decision was made about four months ahead of the tournament and SaaS at that point. This is a piece written by our friend Nick Green. Back when he was that mental floss, Saras had killed 400 people and infected 6000 more in China and Hong Kong, mostly at that point in May of 2003.


S17: They moved the tournament to the U.S. because all the facilities were in place from hosting the World Cup in 1999. The tournament went off, I think fine, but that it was not you know, there’s only one cell out for the all tournament. It was kind of done in a pretty pell mell sort of way. It wasn’t the kind of tournament that you’d see with a kind of like advance planning required. And just based on what I’ve read and also thinking about it logically, it just doesn’t seem like you can move the Olympics. It just seems like you have to. It’s either an offer on sort of thing.

S18: I think that’s what Dick Pound IOC member said, that you just have to can’t you just have to cancel them. And, you know, you’ve got like the euros in Europe. The 2020 European Soccer Championships are coming up this summer. You want to go even closer. You mentioned the NCAA is the first and second rounds of the men’s tournament are scheduled to be played in Spokane, Washington. There’s been an outbreak in Washington. And then the Seattle area, the women’s regional sammies and finals are scheduled for Portland. First rounds are hosted by top seeds in the women’s tournament. Oregon and Gonzaga are in the top 16 right now. So decisions are going to have to be made really quickly.

S21: The one good thing about Spokane and, you know, having something there, is it really in the middle of nowhere. So it helps it it’s separated by a mountain range from Seattle at Kings County in Washington. But yeah. But even so, that’s still kind of too close for comfort. This is just a really old fashioned ass development in the world. We’ve spent a lot of time sharing pieces about how the Spanish flu in 1918 affected years and so much so that a story written by Shantelle Jennings and Athletic that Michigan finished the year with the five and a record and is national champions. This is it’s amazing that 100 hundred years later that we could be so thoroughly and potentially crippled by virus. You know, we’re just not as advanced civilized, I guess you’d like to think.


S17: But it’s just it seems like a really old fashioned ass problem to have a couple of things that stood out for me in doing some of this background. Reading about the flu pandemic, where the 1919 Stanley Cup final got called off it. The series was tired and it wasn’t able to be completed. The Montreal Canadiens, basically the whole team had the flu and was just unable to continue. And then one of the players eventually died in baseball. Famous umpire was killed in a lot of minor league players were were killed as well. There was some talk.

S19: That was the year the famous here were the Red Sox won the World Series. Right. Both behind Babe Ruth as a as a pitcher. And there was some talk about, you know, not holding the World Series games in Boston that they did and they did with with crowds. But if you go back and and read these stories on the numbers about the numbers of people that were that died and. Boston and Philadelphia and other cities. It is truly mind boggling. A story from the Philadelphia Inquirer and Two Thousand 14 about sports in that city mentions that twelve thousand one hundred ninety one residents died in a four week period.

S13: And so I would say don’t read stories about the 1918 flu pandemic. If you don’t want to panic, but if you want like a kind of far out scenario of what could happen and how everything could be affected. I mean, also, Stefan WorldWar one was going on. This was like a pretty crazy period in our country and society. And it wasn’t just the flu that was having a dramatic effect on, you know, our culture and sports.


S6: Right. Six hundred and seventy five thousand Americans died of Spanish flu that year. So we’re not there yet, fortunately, pivoting back to our current situation. I think we’re already starting to see the sort of level of awareness rise among athletes, particularly C.J. McCollum of the Trailblazers tweeted out that he’s not going to sign autographs anymore for the time being because of concerns. And he he said, make sure you all washing your hands with soap for 20 or more seconds and covering your mouth when you cough. So public service announcements on Twitter from fashionable athletes who are concerned about their interaction with the general public as they should be.

S19: Yeah. You had mentioned centerand a thing about Saras in 2003 and how MLB had told players wash your hands and also use your own pens for autographs.

S18: Maybe a good policy in general, though, some players who wanted Toronto in 2003 said they were still going to go see The Lion King.

S13: You know what?

S21: To let stars when professional athletes are probably the people that are least likely to have to worry even if they get Corona virus and they’ll probably hold up. OK, it’s everybody else. And I mean, in effect, if you even take that out a little bit further, people that are in good enough condition to go to a game, they’re probably also going to be fine. It’s just who’s going to be the person that’s most vulnerable? That is the person that’s likely to suffer the effects the most. And you can’t imagine that there’s going to be a lot of those folks that are going to be at games, going to games or playing in games. But it’s in an abundance of caution, which is something we seem to need right now, since people don’t wash their hands in the way that you think they were out. This is one of the things that stays with us as a society going forward is that you really should wash your hands at all times thoroughly.


S11: One thing I read about a 1918, again, that really stuck with me is this article, Lessons Learned from the 1918 1919 influenza pandemic in Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota. This is in an article in the journal Public Health Reports. And the paragraph that just seems like this is totally what’s going to happen reads as follows. Many sporting organizations responded negatively to closing orders. For example, in November 1918, the bowlers of St. Paul drew up a petition that requested permission to begin bowling again. Minneapolis football teams chose to ignore the ban and attempted to play against each other in front of large crowds. Police were called in to disperse the crowds and halt the games. Minneapolis teams found a way to play despite the closing order because Minneapolis high school football games were banned. Practice games were scheduled with St. Paul teams. Everybody is just going to look for a reason that they’re special, that they don’t have to follow the rules. Obviously, a high school football game is like much too important to be canceled. And you got to, you know, get around it by scheduling a practice game with St. Paul.

S1: And bowling. You can’t cancel bowling.

S6: You know, the good news, though, from the from that pandemic. Josh, was that it contributed to the banishment of the spitball from baseball.

S4: Yeah, for sanitary reason as terrorism. That’s what I read.

S6: Nick wasn’t the only reason, but there was certainly performance reason. But that was it.

S4: We’ve got to get we’ve got to get John Hawthorne on the horn to task, if that’s true.

S11: But I mean, it coincided with the pandemic and that the idea that George like maybe the result of 1918 was no more spitballs in 2020, there is will be more hand-washing is to say we can only hope.


S21: We can only hope. Also, you know, disinfecting your hotel room is something I’ve I’ve been doing for the last few years. You’re ahead of the game. Yeah, that’s right. Get into it, man.

S11: Now it is time for After Balls. And we mentioned at the top of the show that Galen Rupp won the men’s marathon trials on Saturday. The second place finisher was Jacob Riley. This will be his first Olympics. Rupp got the bronze. And the marathon in 2016. Rupp and Riley have something in common. They both had surgery for a hoagland’s deformity. Reminds me of our old say colleague, David Haglund, who I think to not have a Hoagland’s deformity, but the Hagman’s deformity. Stefan is a bony protrusion on the heel that can lead to problems that one gets from bony protrusions.

S12: Yeah, there is. I was reading about irritation, Hilly’s irritation.

S9: They have to detach the heel from the Achilles and shave down the bone. Oh, my God.

S13: But this is inspirational. If you have a Hagman’s deformity, you can come back from it to make the Olympic team in the marathon. In the marathon. All right, Stefan, what is your Hamlin’s deformity?

S7: On Friday night in New Haven, Connecticut, the Penn men’s basketball team played Yale, set the stage here. Crucial weekend for the Quakers. One game back in the race for the fourth and final spot in Ivy Madness, the league’s relatively new post-season tournament. Yale came into the game in first place, eight and two in the league. Twenty and six overall, the Eli, the Bulldogs or whatever they call them. They’ve been the most consistent and talented team in the Ivies this season. There was even talk of a two bid Ivy if Yale lost in the final of the tournament. Penn, though, had already beaten Yale at the plasterer in Philly. They had a sweep in the bag on the road, up 73 63 with the ball, 139 to go. Here’s how things went from there. Penn turn over foul. Yale free throws 73, 65, 138 to go. Penn missed free throw. Yale three pointer seventy three sixty eight. Penn Turnover. Yale Miss three. Penn Turnover. Yeah layup seventy three seventy fifty five seconds to go. Penn turnover yel free throws seventy three. Seventy two. Fifty one seconds to go. Penn missed layup. Yale missed layup. Penn turnover. Yale dunk four seventy three. Yale is winning. 13 seconds left. Penn turnover. Yale dunk six. Seventy three. Five seconds left. Penn turnover. YEL turnover. Penn missed three game. That’s seven turnovers. One attempted free throw and two attempted shots in the final minute and a half that began with a win probability of ninety seven point nine percent. Daily Pennsylvanian student newspaper columnist Theo Papa Zack Goss called it astounding and probably the worst minute and a half. Penn has played under coach Steve Donohue. I’d go further and say it was probably the worst minute and a half. Penn has played at any time under any coach. Penn’s choke job even merited a recap by a young sports YouTuber who posts literally from his bedroom.


S22: He oversees Penn. Craziness unfolding.

S10: Source, the source boom’s source, indeed, historic collapse. Party pooper Josh Levine, though actual lead may. About historic collapses after that insane game in the 2016 NCAA tournament where northern Iowa blew a 12 point lead with about a half a minute to go against Texas A&M.

S23: Joshua and we pause on that first. I guess they blew a 12 point lead with like a little bit more than 30 seconds to go. I think that is underappreciated as one of the most amazing sports feats in history getting there.

S10: Was pretty amazing, Josh.. I was going to credit you now as having written the definitive account of blown leads in NCAA men’s basketball. The A&M comeback does make the Yale comeback look like it took ninety nine days and not ninety nine seconds. The Aggies miracle broke a record of eleven points down in the final minute. You reported Canisius beating Louisiana Monroe in 2015. Josh, you also listed some other crazy comeback to Duke down 10 with under a minute against Maryland in 2001, Miami down 10 to Virginia with less than 40 seconds in 2010, eLong down 8 to Kennesaw State with just 16 seconds left in 2015. And North Carolina trailing Duke by nine with 17 seconds to go in 1974, which is even crazier because there was no three point shot than all of those are what Bill James and a 2008 piece in Slate identified as safe leads that were blown. James created a formula for figuring out if a lead is safe. Take the number of points one team is ahead. Subtract three at a half point. If the team in the lead has the ball and subtract half point, if the other team has the ball square, that if the result is greater than the number of seconds left in the game, the lead is safe. By that math, Penn’s lead against Yale 10 minus three, plus a half, seven and a half square fifty six point to five was not safe. So it wasn’t historic. But as I pointed out to Josh, it was historic to me and I wasn’t even watching the game, just following the increasingly frantic Twitter feeds of the Daily Pennsylvanian and Penn basketball. So if you’re a fan of either team involved in a game like that or a player on either team, obviously it will be instantly graphed into your long term memory. It doesn’t matter if it’s a 500 Penn team trying to finish fourth in the Ivy League or the Atlanta Falcons and the Super Bowl. The fail at Yale joined three other very sad moments in my Penn basketball long term memory, one unbeaten and third ranked Penn losing to Citi rival Villanova 90 to 47 in the 1971 NCAA regional finals. I was very small, but a brother was an undergrad at the time and I could name the starting five and sing the fight song to losing to Michigan State and Magic Johnson. One hundred and one to sixty nine in the Final Four in 1979 and three blowing a twenty seven point second half lead to lose to arch rival Princeton fifty to forty nine in 1999. But there are lots of good memories. That is what makes sports great. Making the final four. Beating Villanova eighty four eighty when I was an undergrad beating Princeton by the pre shot clock scores of forty three to forty and forty one to thirty nine. Key player in those games, my classmate, point guard and current DC Attorney General Carr overseen and most recently rebounding from the historic Yale collapse. Damn your heuristics Bill James to beat Brown in Providence on Saturday 73 to 68 and regain control of the huge race for fourth place in the Ivy League.


S5: I don’t know if this will make you feel better or worse, but so is ninety nine seconds and seven turnovers, right? I just work out the math. I think just to make it seem more historic, that would be a pace over a full 40 minute game for one hundred and seventy turnovers and a game.

S12: So that’s it. That makes it pretty bad. That does make it seem read about and appreciate that. Anytime.

S10: Josh, what’s your Hamlin’s deformity now that ah, LSU football tigers.

S13: This is very kind of solipsistic after balls. But that’s that’s what you’re here for. Now that our LSU football tigers won the most recent national championship, the losses of the past staying a little less.

S23: I mean, who really cares that LSU lost 21 to nothing to Alabama and the BCSE title game in 2012 after beating Alabama nine to six during the regular season and then being forced into a rematch that nobody wanted to see? I certainly don’t care, but since you guys brought it up, let’s discuss it for a couple minutes for the final time and we’ll never speak of it again back in those days. There is no four-team playoff. There’s just a two team championship game. That b.c.’s title game in Alabama made that championship game over Oklahoma State in their immortal quarterback, Joel Brandon Weeden. Alabama made that game by a very narrow margin, nine 1000’s of a point. They both had one loss. Oklahoma State finished ahead of Alabama. In the immortal b.c.’s computer rankings. But behind Bama in the so-called human polls, the USA Today and Harris Polls, Oklahoma State would have been a clear second place finisher if they had not lost to Iowa State. In overtime time, they would have finished undefeated. They would have then been sacrificed to our LSU football tigers. But they did lose the Iowa state. It’s undeniable. And they lost that game because, Stefan, of a missed field goal.


S6: Well, like every missed field goal, I’m responsible for that return flight.

S23: Now, just that your ears might perk up if you make an interest in Oklahoma State’s kicker, Quinn Sharpe, who was 22 for 25 on the year and field goals, missed a 37 yard attempt wide right with a little more than a minute to go that left the game tied at allowed Iowa state to win in overtime. Bill Connolly wrote about that missed field goal for SB Nation in 2016, describing it as a play that changed all of college football history. Actually, Connelly wrote about more than that. He wrote about Ella. She’s historically great season in Oklahoma State’s historically great offense, but he ends the piece by noting it kind of as an aside, I’m still not sure Schaap missed that field goal, by the way. In fact, every time I watch it, I become slightly more sure he didn’t. But the box score, the official record disagrees. It always will. Sharpe’s kick was not really wide, right, even though it was reported that way. Let’s listen to ESPN, Joe Tacetin, Rod Gilmore, describe what they saw on the replay. I don’t know that that didn’t go well for the upper. Just to the outside, I was outside, so it’s no good.

S11: All right, Stefan Jarle, you guys just watched the video. I didn’t create the title of the video and the title is In All Caps. It is Oklahoma State at Iowa State. Terrible call on AFGE. So you can disregard that title, Joel. We’ll go to you first. Did Quinn Sharpe make that field goal?

S20: I think he did. It’s tough to see because you can’t quite see the ball, you know, go over that right upright. But it looks like it cuts inside and then drifts off to the right. But that’s just my opinion. I can’t I can’t see it, though.

S23: It’s not a perfect angle. Joel says he made it. Stefan FATSIS.

S6: It might have hit the upright and gone through. And that’s the mystery. Oh, it went over upright.

S12: He made it. Oh, Joel. No more. And then I’d put my hands up. I was signaling good here in the studio because you want to give the kicker. You want to give the kicker the benefit. I’m a I’m not the best source here.

S11: All right. Let’s go back to the after ball. So the college football rulebook is unclear on how to evaluate a field goal. That goes over an upright rather than between them. It just says the crossbar and uprights are treated as a line. Well, thanks a lot. Stupid Roebuck. It also says also unhelpfully, if the ball is higher than the top of the uprights as it crosses the end line, be play may not be reviewed. As Roger Sherman noted in a 2015 SB Nation piece about another field goal in a college game that went over an upright. That makes no sense. A kick over upright seems like the exact perfect case in which you would want to review it. Otherwise it should be pretty damn clear whether the ball went through if it doesn’t go over and upright. The NFL rules, they’re more clear a field goal is good if it goes, quote, between the outside edges of the uprights. All right, Stefan, you now say it’s good. OK. Also, Stefan, you might remember uprights in the NFL were extended from 30 feet in there to 35 feet in the air. A rule change that was put in place at the behest of the New England Patriots in 2014 because Bill Belichick was mad that the Ravens, Justin Tucker was credited with a game winning field goal against New England on a kick that, yes, sailed over an upright and college uprights are still 30 feet high. That Okie state field goal still not good. And as Bill Connolly argued in 2016, if it had been ruled good, we might not have seen a college football playoff, at least for a few more years. I don’t mean to say forever, but if undefeated Oklahoma State had played undefeated LSU with one loss Bama sitting at home, nobody would have had anything to complain about. You know, less Miles would have had a second national championship. We might never have seen Kocho like, you know, who knows what what could have happened here except for Oklahoma State winning. That wouldn’t have happened. But, Joel, the LSU, Alabama all SCC rematch that made everyone mad for various reasons. I was mad for different reasons than than the non SCCA fan base was mad.

S23: But a few months after Alabama won the title game, the b.c.’s was kaput. If there were higher uprights or if there were lasers on top of the upbraids just going to lose on top razorblades or if there are longer uprights and lasers on top of that operates, the world would be a very different place.

S24: Yeah, I mean, I enjoyed that Alabama LSU rematch from where you are the one you’re the one who enjoyed it.

S20: I was a big Trent Richardson fan. I know a lot of this don’t exist anymore. I like seeing Trent Richardson do his thing on a big stage.

S4: The thing that people don’t remember and then this will be honestly the last time I ever speak of this game in private or public. The thing people don’t remember about that game, they remember that the 9:06 game in the regular season was all field goals, but Sencer was 21 to zero in that game. People don’t remember that it was fifteen to nothing with five Alabama field goals.

S11: And then Trent Richardson, I believe, ran in a touchdown near the very end of the game. And then Alabama missed the extra point to give the final twenty one to zero margin, which sort of obscures the fact that there were that many field goals in that game and there were almost no touchdowns in Alabama, LSU the whole season.

S24: I also was one of the few people that enjoyed that 9 6 game as well. I thought it was it was a beautiful, like just violent, excellent game. I thought that was one of the best college football games I’ve ever seen.

S4: All right. Maybe Joel and I will talk about this game in private. We want we won’t subject you to it. You can you can just talk about Penn basketball while we’re we’re talking.

S6: I’m just thinking about lasers shooting out of the top of the uprights as we all are.

S11: That is our show for today. Our producer this week filling in for Melissa Caplin is Rosemary Bellson. Listen. A pashas and subscribe or just reach out, go to Slate, dot com slash Hang-Up and you can e-mail us at Hang-Up at for Joel Anderson and Stefan FATSIS. I’m Josh Levine, remembers Elmo Baity. And thanks for listening. Now it is time for our bonus segment for Slate Plus members last week. Jeff, darling, ten of. Yes. h¥ reported, and I quote, Tom Brady is currently operating under the belief that he will enter free agency to play somewhere other than New England next season. Brady can start negotiating with other teams in two weeks. March 16th, when he does, the 87 year old quarterback. Hold on. I’m being told he’ll actually only be 43 in August. The 43 year old quarterback will have plenty of suitors. As the saying goes. Well, he joined the Saints as Drew Brees as backup, Joel. It would be a great opportunity for him to learn from the best.

S23: Brady’s rap apparently met with three teams at the combine, the Chargers, the Raiders and the Colts.

S24: Oh, wow, OK. Because I’ve never seen Tom Brady play for anybody else in the NFL. I’m inclined to believe that he’ll end up back with the Patriots again. But that’s only because I can’t envision a world in which he’s wearing another NFL uniform.

S4: You’re like one of those sports pundits who’s like, I’m just gonna rank this team number one till someone beats right there, the champ, until they lose. They’re they’re always going to be number adapted.

S25: You don’t have to know anything about it. If you put them at number one, it seems reasonable. The only thing that gives me some reticence here is that I know that Bill Belichick is famously unsentimental when it comes to his great players or any players whatsoever, and that there’s not necessarily any love lost between Tom Brady and Bill Belichick over the years stemming from the Jimmy Garoppolo imbroglios of a few years ago.

S19: Where’s also the Alex Guerrero thing where the Patriots didn’t want Brady’s, like, personal guru slash trainer to be at the facility and all that stuff?

S25: They’re still like this iciness between those two guys. That baby has not been patched up. But it’s just hard for me to imagine Tom Brady playing at a soccer stadium next year, which is where the Chargers board or for like a shitty team.

S18: I mean, though, Hall of Fame quarterbacks have ended their NFL careers putting on the uniforms of shitty teams. I can’t imagine that Tom Brady would be willing to play for the Oakland. Where are they? Las Vegas, next. Raiders. That just doesn’t compute. I mean, yeah, there are some athletes that can’t hang it up and will prostrate themselves.

S12: So every team in the NFL, it isn’t the Patriots is bad. Well, the Raiders aren’t that good. They were decent. Almost everybody said Sandra.

S11: They did better that a better collection of offensive talent than the Patriots did. I mean, that’s the thing that’s kind of nuts, is that Brady could make a decision independent of, you know, personality, conflict or hurt feelings. That’s like the Colts are kind of, I think, pretty clearly the best situation to go into. They have a lot of talent on the team. And just since Andrew Luck retired and Jacoby Prasad is like kind of the definition of a replacement level quarterback. He’s not awful, but he’s not a guy that’s going to lead you to any great success.

S6: They have a half they play half their games inside, mitigating the weather factor and other they have t.y Holmes, a great receiver.

S19: I mean, I’m just naming one player. They have a really good offensive line, good collection of skill possession, talent, really good talent on defense.

S10: So maybe that’s the question. Is Tom Brady willing to make a sort of rational football decision versus this emotional decision?

S5: Having won all these super close friend Adam Planetree has gone from New England to Indianapolis before.

S24: You said Jacoby Brissett is a replacement level NFL quarterback. But at this point, with Tom Brady going to going to be 43 years old going into the next season, like it’s hard not to think Tom Brady is not replaced. Tom Brady wasn’t good last year. He wasn’t terrible, but he wasn’t good.

S19: He was kind of terrible. But I think you could make the argument that it was because they had like nothing around him. You could at least make the argument. I know it’s true. And certainly NFL teams are going to look at has. History and and talk themselves into that being true.

S24: I also can’t imagine an NFL team you’re spending, you know, 20, 25, 30 million dollars on a 43 year old quarterback who beat his best years are clearly way behind. But you saw, for example, this year, unless you have elite talent, the dude is not probably gonna be able to be what he was. And the Patriots have a combination of talent and coaching that could sort of hide his flaws. But you go somewhere else. Would neither one of those things is in play. You could see it ending really poorly.

S25: And I mean, the thing is, I’m not one of those people that’s precious about this shit like Emmitt Smith played for the Arizona Cardinals, who gives no shit? I mean, he was still a great NFL running back. You know, Joe Namath played for the Rams. I don’t remember it.

S6: But we don’t care about him tarnishing his legacy regardless of what he chooses to do. The conspiracy theory ing around this and the anticipation is pretty great fodder. I mean, there were this there was a video over the weekend of Brady and Julian Edelman at a game.

S12: And Adelman said he’s coming back. They’re also face timing, the Titans coach, Mike Vrabel. Which sounds like he’s really a weak conspiracy theory. I mean, everybody play with this guy. Everybody has time. Mike Gravel, I was I was faced with that horrible. And we’re teammates. Yeah, freshman coaches.

S24: BRADY Older than how many NFL head coaches? TOM BRADY Older than if we could be.

S4: Sean McVay His father, probably, yeah. If we’re gonna get technical about it.

S10: I mean, they were at a serious basketball game. The Seahawks have a team in the NFL.

S19: This is weird. Why would you go to a Syracuse basketball game for completeness sake? I read stories in SB Nation, CBS Sports and Business Insider that mentions teams that the Brady might go to. So in addition to the Patriots explanation, says Colts, Bucs, Panthers, Chargers and Forty Niners, the reverse allow you CBS Sports mentions Raiders, Dolphins who are coached by former Pats. Did Brian Flores Titans coached by Mike FREBEL. Business Insider also tosses in Broncos, Bears and the ultimate the dream scenario. Cowboys cannot strike a deal. Adak, bring in it. Bring in Brady.

S10: So what are we up to? 14 teams there? Fifth, hardly eleven. Oh, they’re lovely.

S12: Eleven. Yeah. Well, there’s still time to get to half the league.

S19: At least there has. It’s certainly possible that Brady and his crew leaked the report to SBN to try to, you know, put pressure on New England that he’s really seriously thinking about doing this. But I guess, you know, the place to end all is if we’re at a place where there’s serious doubt about whether Brady can do this anymore. You brought that up in the context of why would another team want to bring him in. You also mentioned Belichick being kind of famously cold and calculating about this stuff, like the way you were talking.

S4: You’re like, baby, Brady should just be unemployed. Is that what you’re saying?

S24: Yeah, absolutely.

S25: I mean, the Patriots got rid of Richard Seymour when he was good. They got rid of Vince Wilfork when he was still good. They’ve gotten rid of Tyler. You know, I mean, like they’ve gotten rid of players that were foundations of some of their greatest teams and moved on and been, you know, just sort of cold about it. And the Patriots could look at the market and say, all right, we’ve got a guy who’s going to be 43 years old who shown signs of decline. He’s not going to be great forever. And we’d have to spend a lot of money, which is something that they don’t necessarily want to do. And Brady’s not going to be a guy who’s going to have a hometown discount again. So maybe Jarrett Stidham at this age is as good as Tom Brady might be at 43, maybe Andy Dalton, maybe Teddy Bridgewater or whoever they draft some, you know, Jacob, etc.. They traded for Justin Herbert or something like it. You might be more willing to take a chance with a younger talent, especially with the way the NFL is going, than sticking in with an expensive old declining quarterback like Tom Brady. Like we’re not talking about Tom Brady, who’s 32 years old. We’re talking about Tom Brady, who’s 42. And under that scenario, it makes sense that Bill Belichick be that you got a great career. Your jerseys will be retired here. But that has nothing to do with the twenty twenty NFL season.

S18: TV 12 means that his age is actually twelve years less than what it actually means.

S13: Fast forward to February. The Patriots and Tom Brady just won the Super Bowl again.

S6: Maybe they’ll turn up for Joe Byrd. Bill Belichick care about his hand signs.

S13: You know, the thing about the Patriots is like for how kind of infallible that their reputation is as far as like personnel management. They didn’t put together anything for Brady to work with last season. And so we shall see. You think patriots?

S24: I think preacher, because I can’t envision anything else. But I mean, I think raiders would be the funniest.

S19: I’m going to go Raiders for comedy.

S18: You know what I think is gonna happen? What I think Bill Jack’s gonna draft Kevin Davidson of Princeton, eight and a quarter in chance.

S13: There we go. My size. FATSIS Hands Davidson, as they call him. Thank you. Slate Plus members will be back with more next week. Later.