Let's tend to the details before we get to the mailbag.
NFL picks finished 4-2 last week, considering we made them on Tuesday and got the Steelers minus-3 and the Seahawks minus-5. The closing lines swelled to Steelers minus-10.5 and the Seahawks minus-6.5, and proved to be the difference in covering and not in each case.
We're now 29-25 against the spread (53.7 percent), which is not up to snuff but better than our college version.
But wow, there are some truly fishy lines out there this week. The Dolphins and the Vikings laying double-digits? The Bears have lost five straight and they are a three-point favorite over Detroit?
I'll take the Rams minus-3 over Arizona, the Pats minus-1 at the Chargers, Seattle minus-10 over a Daniel Jones-less New York Giants. I may add a pick or two later today, but so it goes.
While we are here, there are a few stories that were not in the mailbag but must be mentioned.
First, major congrats to McCallie for rolling to a state championship. Here's Hargis' gamer and Weeds' column from the title victory, and kudos to all those who made this cherished lifetime memory a possibility for those kids under the most surreal and difficult of circumstances.
Here's Paschall — the rules are the rules — on UT not having players opt-out and Georgia's senior class having a shot at history.
Outside of the 423, there was this story about a high school football player in Texas who put hands on a referee after being ejected.
As for this week's Rushmores, we'll go here:
Rushmore of songs connected with sports teams (and as a caveat, fight songs were scratched, so Rocky Top was not an option, but something like Dixieland Delight at Alabama games was): "We Are Family" late 1970s Pittsburgh Pirates, Sweet Caroline and the Boston Red Sox, Sirius (the intro music) for the Chicago Bulls and Jump Around at Wisconsin football games, back when we had fans at football games.
Rushmore of destiny: Destiny's Child, the fallacy that is "Control your own destiny," Manifest Destiny, and the way Star Wars was obsessed with destiny. (Also, as Spy suggested, "Destiny to the main stage" deserved consideration.)
Rushmore of gifts: Christmas gift, Gift of the Magi, The Greatest Gift, God's gift to fill in the blank.
Rushmore of Ben Stiller films: Meet the Parents, Something About Mary, Dodgeball and Tropic Thunder.
From a lot of you
Why are you not on Press Row anymore?
I was fired Tuesday after more than seven years on Press Row. Before this week and other than vacation or traveling, I had missed exactly one show since we started back in 2013, and that was earlier this summer when we needed to contact trace for possible Corona exposure. (Thankfully, we were all clear.)
I have written and rewritten this response multiple times, and pondered whether to even write anything at all about it, but the overwhelming number of questions and kind comments that started to pour in Thursday made it clear that something needed to be said.
So here it is: I was fired — over email by the way — and it was for writing critical opinions right here in the 5-at-10 about the new ESPN national morning show. Those comments were in last Thursday's "This and That" and read as such:
"— So leaving like a church mouse, Trey Wingo is no longer with ESPN. And like that, the ripples from the failed Golic and Wingo morning show continue to be erased from the memories of those in Bristol. I understand. It was the show that followed THE show, and trying to imitate Mike & Mike was a losing plan from the start.
— And while we're there, I did not like the Golic and Wingo show all that much, but it was way, Way, WAY better than the dreck-tastic morning show on ESPN these days with Keyshawn Johnson, Jay Williams and Zubin Mehta. Not sure what the strength of that show is supposed to be or even the focus. It's hard to listen to, that much I do know."
Side note: For those of you who listen to the show, you know that a) I have offered that opinion on air multiple times and b) have said things a heck of a lot more confrontational and potentially offensive than that. So it goes, I guess.
So there it is, and it's amazing the way God works when you trust in Him, because when one door is slammed another one somehow opened for our family.
This is simply the explanation. I greatly enjoyed my time on Press Row, and I think it had become a very good show. I know that Paschall and Wells will get along swimmingly without me, and will continue to inform and entertain you guys and gals in the afternoon.
In some ways, I hate it for them as much as anything because this assuredly creates more work and greater demands on their time. Because no matter what any bean counter in whatever business tries to tell you, you can't overcome fewer numbers by "working smarter" these days.
Know this gang: I can't truly tell you folks how much I appreciated you guys playing along with the silliness and how much I still appreciate all the kind words.
In the end, the 5-at-10 was part of the reason I believed I could do radio, and now the 5-at-10 proved to be what ended my time in radio.
From a slew of you
Holy bleep, what happened with the LeBatard Show?
Well, not to be too much ESPN radio chatter, but the irony of my situation and then the news getting out Thursday about Dan LeBatard and his merry misfits agreeing to be bought out of their contracts at ESPN was not lost on a number of you.
I love the LeBatard Show — I think it is the best sports radio show in the country, and it's not that close — and we all have to believe after the end of his time on ESPN — his last show will be Jan. 4 — he will have a host of suitors. A plethora in fact.
And his very loyal fan base will follow him. Could it be SiriusXM — that seems like the front-runner — or will he produce and market his show himself?
Either way, this writing has been on the wall for a long time considering they cut an hour from the national show, moved the TV broadcast to ESPN+ and recently laid off one of the producers, who Dan promptly hired back to be his personal assistant and pay him out of his own pocket.
For LeBatard personally, though, the writing was even more clear considering a) LeBatard was extremely loyal to the previous ESPN regime, b) LeBatard has repeatedly said he values his freedom of choice and words way more than the money on his contract, c) LeBatard loathed the "stick to sports" mantra the new ESPN leadership was demanding, and d) LeBatard is the opposite of a company apologist.
I did not agree with all his political views and he was very quick to turn as many discussions as possible into a debate about race and race relations.
That said, the only way I can see being in the opinion business is to be truthful; sure using tact and discretion are important too, but if you're not honest, you're not going to connect with your readers/listeners.
And LeBatard and his crew connected better than anyone or any show anywhere, and it was because of that honesty.
Reports have Mike Greenberg moving to 10-noon to replace LeBatard with Bart Scott and Alan Hahn moving to the noon-2 slot.
So there's that, too.
Online betting is great, but just imagine how much tax revenue Tennessee could gain if marijuana was legalized? Colorado has received over $20 million dollars each month since July 2017 in taxes and fees. It's a no brainer! I'm tired of driving to Colorado all the time.
First, thanks for not asking an ESPN radio question.
Second, and we'll try to move more quickly through the rest of today's program, I completely agree.
In fact, I believe the CoColas in my fridge or the pack of lung darts folks burn through are way more physically addictive and damaging than the dime bag Pat has in his dresser.
Absolutely legalize marijuana.
Jay, I am really pumped that Atlanta was able to sign Luke Jackson. He can change a ho hum game into a dog fight and the need to come from behind in 12 pitches or less. Wowser, 1.9 million $, how much is that per walk?
For factual analysis, for his 2020 season, that $1.9 million works out to be $146,153.84 per each of his 13 walks last year.
But your bigger picture conversation is spot on, because 1990 — just 30 years ago — Roger Clemens went 21-6 with a 1.93 ERA and four shutouts. He made $2.6 million that season.
Jackson was 2-0 with a 6.84 last year in 19 games.
So there's that.
If not mailbag worthy I simply want to know:
Tyler Bray has turned an average UT career and early draft departure into 7 undrafted years in the NFL where he has gone 1 for 6 and his first NFL snap resulted in a fumbled handoff scoop and score.
Is Tyler Bray the luckiest man alive?
Follow up question: does he yearn for the chance to get on the field or is he always dreading the risk to his career that actual playing time might expose?
Hope you and yours are well and enjoyed the holiday.
What a great question, and if he's not the luckiest guy in sports, he's certainly in the team photo.
In his eight years, according to Spotrac.com, with bonuses and such, Bray as made $4,375,741 playing football.
Actually, he's made that money in large part for being ready to play football.
In those eight years, he has taken snaps at QB twice — once in 2017 with the Chiefs and once a couple of weeks ago with the Bears.
At this point, I would have to believe the delusions of grandeur and the thoughts of winning a Super Bowl as the QB1 have been forever washed.
I'd be willing to bet that in the grand scheme of things, being the No. 3 emergency guy and the checks that come with that are 100 percent A-OK with Bray.
Enjoy the week gang, and thanks as always for reading.