Everything is political - even NIL
So, the NIL stuff is a regular around these parts.
Hey, it's new. It's money. It's college football.
It's as made for the 5-at-10 as the Kardashians are made for the E! Network.
And while we all have views - be they pro or con, moderate or extreme, indifferent or passionate - about the NIL and the changes it brings, here's another wrinkle that somehow I had not given a great deal of thought to. And it's just the latest example of the NCAA's failures to address the loopholes opened in all of this.
University of Tennessee-Martin quarterback Dresser Winn sided a local NIL deal recently. Yeah, that's not news these days.
That Winn signed it to support local district attorney candidate Colin Johnson, though, makes it a head-turner.
Winn, according to our former Chattanooga Times Free Press sports writer David Cobb, is believed to be the first college athlete to sign an NIL as a political spokesman.
Not sure how many ripples this will create - or the appearances of impropriety down the road if Winn or any of his UT at Martin teammates get in trouble and, if he wins, Johnson goes easy on them - considering the relatively small scale UT at Martin operates.
But last week we detailed Nick Saban saying he and other coaches are worried about the money differences and the issues it could create in the locker room.
I believe those fears are overblown.
But let a beloved, former walk-on white QB who was the title game MVP at some school that could be in, say Athens, Ga., that is a battleground state with a very contentious governor's race back the white Republican candidate. Then have a five-star defensive player or three who are Black and were key to the school's first national title Carter was in office back the Black Democratic candidate.
Now that could wreck a locker room - and create some real issues within the fan base, no?
Because how many UGA fans do you know, and how many of them would be less-than-thrilled about seeing the starting linebackers in a Stacy Abrams ad this fall?
So, through these many years, we've learned the primary tendencies of the various leadership skills of the various sports organizations.
We know the NCAA and Mark Emmert put their head in the sand and hoped everything would go away. We know that FIFA and the IOC see an issue, trying to emulate what Fredo Corleone would do.
We know the MLB and Rob Manfred find logical and reasonable answers and then do the exact opposite,
We know the NBA locates and issue and then points to its Black superstars and wants to discuss racial equality.
The NFL? Well, the NFL's modus operandi No. 1 is on full display this week.
The NFL has various interviews circulating with DeShaun Watson's accusers. The NFL is facing a can of worms that could become nuclear with the Jon Gruden lawsuits, emails and evidentiary hearings. The NFL's facing a nine-figure settlement in the lawsuit St. Louis filed for pulling the Rams. The NFL's biggest popularity hit since the Maroon Five halftime show - Colin Kaepernick - is trying out for the Raiders.
They are dealing with a lot of stuff. Cue Larry Hockett: "Candlesticks always make a nice gift. Maybe we can find out where they are registered and get them a placesetting or silverware pattern or something. OK, let's get two."
Roger Goodell's gift as the $50-plus-million a year holder of the shield for The Shield has been his ability to be the ultimate deflector. Remember when the Bob Kraft massage issue came out, that was when the changes to the PAT discussions started to pick up steam.
Of course, they are.
Because once we get the Pro Bowl handled, all will be right with the world, right Roger? Well, I guess as long as DeShaun's not playing and in need of a postgame massage after this new-look Pro Bowl, that is.
Speaking of NFL storylines
So, not to do Goodell's deflecting for him, but the story out of Nashville is the latest of a couple of the over-blown, over-hyped, off-season headlines that really make my profession look at best tabloidish and at worst densely nonsensical.
Ryan Tannehill is now in hot water for saying it's not his job to mentor Malik Willis.
Well, of course, it's not his job. It's Tannehill's job to earn being the starter. Sure, be a good teammate. Be kind.
But in this NFL structure, if Tannehill helps Willis get to half as good as Tannehill, then Willis will be packing Tannehill's bags. Because a QB on a third-round deal who is two-thirds as good as a starter making $25 million per, well, the math works overwhelmingly against the starter.
So after saying that it was not his job to mentor Willis - again, Tannehill's job is to keep Tannehill's starting job - the Titans starter was forced to 'walk back' his comments.
"I meant no disrespect to Malik or anything close to that," Tannehill told reporters Wednesday. "We've been in constant communication since he was drafted, through the madness that ensued after my last press conference. He's a good person, he's a talented player, he's coming off a great college career. We're happy to have him in the room."
Whatever. One of my favorite historical stories in competitions between QBs was the alleged story that when he was battling Brandon Stewart for the QB1 gig in Knoxville when they were freshmen, Peyton Manning reportedly would make it look like he was either going out or going to bed, and let Stewart know. Then Stewart would go about his business and Manning would sneak back into the football offices - and make sure the coaches saw him there - to watch film or get in extra work in Stewart's absence.
This and that
- So David Kilmnick, a prominent LGBTQ+ leader, is calling on that community to boycott Bill Maher and his HBO show because of some comments Maher made about LGBTQ+ young people. Kilmnick wants the boycott to lead to the cancellation of Maher's long-running show while also writing that the goal was not "getting caught up in the extreme left and right's battle on "cancel culture." OK. That said, Maher may have found a Simpsons-like zone that if you are offending everyone are you really discriminating against anyone? Discuss.
- While we're discussing overblown QB stories, maybe the biggest ever was the time when Joe Flacco was with the Ravens and someone asked him who he thought was the best QB in the league. Flacco's answer was Flacco, and you know what, I would want my QB to think he was as good as anyone else in the league too. First, it's kind of a lose-lose question, because if he says "Brady" then it becomes a stink bomb the next time the Ravens fave Brady. He says Flacco, and well, it's assuredly not true but, well you know.
- Braves played. Braves won. Two quick side notes: First, is it me, or does this team feel like it scores 6-plus runs every time Dansby Swanson contributes even a little at the plate. Second, Bryce Harper should finish tonight 0-for-0 with four walks. Dude has earned the 'Kelly Leak' treatment with the way he's KER-rushing baseballs right now. In this series with the Braves, Harper is only 8-for-15 with three doubles, a homer and four RBIs. Carried out over a season, that would be a stat line of hitting .533 with 54 homers, 216 RBIs, and a .933 slugging. That's decent.
- You know the rules. Here's Paschall with the details of the CBS plans for SEC scheduling as we know it. And there may not be a more sure bet than the Alabama-A&M game being the nightcap in the annual CBS doubleheader.
- So Vader asked recently if we were impressed with the quality of the USFL play. Truthfully, I have no opinion on the USFL because I have not watched an entire possession yet. But for those who have, I have two questions: First, is there a gambling trend or two that anyone has noticed? Second, Shae Patterson was cut this week. Patterson was the No. 1 overall pick in the draft earlier this year. Also, for the fringe athlete who is wondering if he should give it one more shot, getting pink slip in the USFL is a pretty clear smoke signal, right?
So, free-for-all Thursday. Fire away - either for today or for the bag.
My question: How quickly after that UTM story hit the streets are coaches trying to find out if they can legally prevent players from endorsing political candidates.
John Wayne would have been 115 today. I could ask his Rushmore, but a) I feel like we've already done that and b) I would have to yield to Spy's choices because he's a much bigger Duke fan than I am.
Let's have some fun on a Thursday.
Miles Davis would have been 96 today. Rushmore of all-time cool celebrities who would be or could have been just as awesome if their names were flipped. Because Miles Davis is awesome, but I believe Davis Miles could have been just as cool too.
Go, and remember the mailbag.