Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry (22) scores past Oakland Raiders free safety Erik Harris (25) during the first half of an NFL football game in Oakland, Calif., Sunday, Dec. 8, 2019. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

Questions about the media

I normally refrain from speaking too much about my profession. (I also generally abhor starting our morning conversations with "I," but hey, let's cross those taboos Dollar General-style, two-for-one.)

But I think there are a slew of interesting and intersecting storylines about the media right now that deserve some discourse around these normally calm parts.

First, there's the rotten story about Kyle Rudolph and his gloves. If you have not heard it, well, apparently Rudolph was approached by a media member in the locker room after last Sunday's win by the Vikings and asked for his gloves — that were used to catch the game-winning TD — as a donation to charity.

Apparently, the non-named member of the media sold the gloves on eBay for close to $400. (Bad story turned much better features the details here about the guy who bought the gloves donating them to charity, and the more than $1,600 fans sent to the guy who bought the gloves also has been donated. And Rudolph has said he will send his gloves from this weekend's game against the 49ers to the fan who bought them.)

My thought: If that dude truly is a member of the media, he should be fired before the end of BID-ness today. Period. And from my point of view, while the bait-and-switch swindle is bad enough, any working media of the member asking for something from a prominent member of the team they cover is strictly forbidden. My hope is that this was someone posing as a media member, but again, if he's at a paper, a blog, a plog or pounding keys in his momma's basement, he should be fired and have his credential pulled.

Second, there's the controversy The Washington Post has waded into with both feet. Here's the story about The WaPo answering challenges by Fox News that had the TV blowhards wondering aloud — much to the delight of their blind-faithed followers who are ready to pounce on anything that remotely shades President Trump — whether or not journalists are patriots.

Here's the quote from some gasbag named Pete Hegseth, one of the nameless white faces on "Fox and Friends": ""I bemoan the fact, especially since the Iraq War, that it feels like patriotism is largely dead among our journalism corps. Where is the home team for a lot of these people? Taking a moment to cheer and appreciate that when America kills one of our enemies on the battlefield, that's a good thing. It just doesn't feel like that exists much anymore."      

Uh, Pete, it's clear that you are short credits in American civics and were absent the day they taught journalism in journalism school.

For starters, I can make a hard argument that there are few jobs this side of first responders and the great American soldiers as patriotic as journalists.

We get paid peanuts. We are worried every day about whether our jobs at newspapers or TV affiliates or wherever will be there next month or next year. We work endless hours that required so many of us to work every Thanksgiving and/or Christmas for a decade or more. We have lower professional approval rates than dentists and IRS agents.

And we embrace all of those as parts of the gig, and do you want to know why? Because next to our family and our faith — and maybe the Auburn Tigers — we love the First Amendment like it's part of our family crest.

Heard of Benny Franklin and Tommy Jefferson? Yeah, they were fairly patriotic, Pete, and check their stances on an impartial and critical and at times skeptical news media. I'd say what a joke, but it's part of the "Fake News" narrative that has eroded so much in our society.

And Pete, ask anyone who reads this — I am a conservative who voted for Trump. But if/when he makes mistakes an impartial media has to be there to point it out. Period.

Want to know who has "a Home Team media" jacket? Yeah, North Korea and Hussein-era Iraq. How's that working out for the people?

Finally, and this goes in the pile of mistakes media folks make that give gasbags like Pete and the masses who hate the media that does not preach to their convictions all the ammunition they need.

in the last 10 days there have been some noteworthy obituaries of folks most of us have heard of. Here's the headlines in the New York Times about the obits of two of them:

"Qassim Suleimani, Master of Iran's Intrigue and Force, Dies at 62."

"Sam Wyche, who was the last coach to lead the Cincinnati Bengals to the Super Bowl but who was later fined by the NFL for barring a female reporter from the team's locker room, has died."

Really, NYT? An Iranian general who was killed for reportedly killing hundreds, if not thousands, is offered straight and direct, but Wyche's decision — which generated all of a $4,000 fine — in 1990 deserves special mention in his last headline ever?

Heck, maybe ol' Gasbag Pete has a point after all. (Heck no, he doesn't.)


NFL playoffs, part III

We will pick all the games tomorrow, and hope to improve on last week's 1-2-1 showing against the number.

We are planning on getting to the NCAA title game at some point, too.

Yesterday we discussed the quarterbacks with the most to gain in these playoffs. Your feedback on the topic was excellent as usual. Here's Spy's analysis (for those of you missing Spy and his regularly snarky, occasionally funny quips, well, he's been predisposed, and no, Jules, he was not incarcerated) on the matter:

"I'll say Tannehill has the most to gain, simply because, well, he's Ryan Tannehill and not considered to be of the same ilk as Rodgers or Wilson or even Watson.

"Player with the chance to be all-time Rushmore of his franchise? It's an easy one and he's probably already there. JJ Watt. Because this is Willis Reed-like stuff.

"Not overly wowed by any of the NFL hires. Though the money Carolina ponied up for Rhule (is he now "Golden" Rhule?) is beyond stupid. Good luck with that, Carolina. And can he take Geoff Collins with him? There are Waffle Houses in Charlotte."

Happy New Year, Spy.

As for today's review, let's look at the non-quarterbacks who will either decide Sunday's playoff showdowns or have the most to gain (and in some cases they overlap):

Tennessee: Derrick "Bleepin" Henry. There was a great clip of an interview on "60 Minutes Sports" with Marshawn Lynch at the height of the Beast Mode movement.

Marshawn: If you just run through somebody's face, a lot of people ain't going to be able to take that over and over and over and over and over again. They just not going to want that."

Interviewer: "You think there is a deeper metaphor there."

Marshawn: "Yeah. Run through a [bleeper]'s face."

The point, of course, is that Derrick Henry is running through everyone's face he sees right now. And in the grand scheme of things, for the first time I can recall against a Bill Belichick defense, Derrick Henry yanked the Patriots' will to tackle and that's saying a mouthful.

Plus, Mr. Henry if you're nasty, is about to cross the contract year. This one is clear.

Baltimore: Mark Andrews is a monster key for these Ravens because he's a 6-foot-7 target that faces a lot of single coverage. As for the most to gain, give me Earl Thomas, the former All-Pro safety, because if the Ravens deliver a title as the Super Bowl favorite, well, Thomas starts to really build a Canton-like résumé.

Kansas City: Frank Clark — and his host of pass-rushing buddies — will be the difference-makers for these Chiefs, because without pressure DeShaun Watson is going to roll up as many points at Patty Mahomes. At stake, I'll go LeSean McCoy, the running back with a long list of accomplishments but who has enjoyed very few playoff highlights.

Houston: Another one with the same guy, and it's clearly JJ Watt. Dude got a sack with one functioning arm last week against the Bills, and we know the Texans have to generate pressure on Mahomes to have a chance. And while Watt is already the face of that franchise and well-along the HoF track, if he leads the Texans to the AFC title game, never mind the Super Bowl, 10 weeks after tearing a pectoral muscle, well, that's Willis Reed-like stuff right there, friends.

San Francisco: Difference-makers will be any of those stable of three backs, and whether they can generate the balance that allows Kyle Shanahan to make the Vikings respect the run to allow Shanahan and Jimmy G to get the play-action rolling. Fellow former Legion of Boom member Richard Sherman has a lot at stake, career-wise, like Earl Thomas in Baltimore.

Minnesota: Dalvin Cook is staring at the conversations about new deal, and his past has been injury-filled. Not unlike Kirk Cousins, if Cook leads Minnesota and its truly starved fans to a Super Bowl run, he has to get lost-term Curley-like money, right?

Green Bay: Davante Adams is the big one, and Seattle has to be looking to slow him down and make the rest of the faceless wideouts beat them. As for at stake, in truth, Aaron Rodgers has so much on the line, the rest of everyone else is so far back they are out of focus, not unlike the rest of "Stillwater" behind Russell Hammond on that T-shirt. ("Almost Famous" may be the most underrated movie of my lifetime. Truly.)

Seattle: Same. Jadeveon Clowney. Contract hanging in the balance, and dude has become one of the biggest difference-making edge players in the league. He's analytically the best edge player in the league against the run, and we all know how good a pass-rusher he is. Sneaky thing to watch: Clowney is among the league's worst at jumping offside, and Rodgers is one of the best with the hard count.


Athens travel plans

Well, the news that dominated the SEC yesterday came from Clarke County and thankfully did not involve 'Dro or a police report. So at least there's that.

As for the rest, well, let the craziness unfurl.

The Cade Mays story is surreal. A longtime UT commit whose dad played for the Vols and whose little brother has committed to the Vols announced he is leaving UGA and reportedly headed back to Knoxville.

Then comes word that Cade Mays' dad is suing Georgia and a chairmaker because he lost part of his pinkie in a chair-against-the-column incident. Seriously.

All of that story — considering that Mays was a former 5-star who was pegged as the starting left tackle and will certainly be missed by a Dawgs bunch rebuilding their O-Line — made the news of Jake Fromm declaring for the draft seem rather mundane.

But not any less important. Here's TFP SEC expert David Paschall's report on it, and as Paschall notes, this very likely means the Bulldogs now are in the QB aisle of the college free agency supermarket known as the Transfer Portal.

Want to know who has a sneaky great new year?

That would be the Florida Gators and Johnny Gators Fans everywhere. Strong recruiting class. Dan Mullen looms as a possible candidate in Dallas, but he stays.

Now, bonafide unrest in Athens and you have to think Florida is right there, side-by-side with Kirby's Corps as the favorites in the SEC East.

This and that

— You know the drill. When Weeds writes about college hoops, we read and link Weeds writing about college hoops. Here's his view on the Mocs playing SoCon-favorite Furman down to the wire at McKenzie on Wednesday night. I have to admit, Lamont Paris has grown on me. Yes, he needs to continue the upward arc, but I believe that dude was handed a box of poo and is trying to make a chocolate cake. That process can't be easy and, at times, it can be quite stinky.

— OK, there's a situation brewing in Cleveland, where highly successful coach John Beilein told his Cavaliers that he was pleased they were no longer playing like "thugs," and understandably several of his black players took great offense to the rant. Well, Beilein has said he meant to say "slugs" as in slow and sluggish. Sticky situation here, friends.

— Harry and Meghan are walking away from the royal family to break out on their own. Reports I saw have them "starting out" on their own with roughly $17 million in inheritance. Hope they are going to be OK.

— Kudos to Cole Copeland for finding his way back to UTC and to Rusty Wright for allowing him the chance to return. In the end, that's making sure these young guys have every chance possible to take advantage of and make the most of their situations. Visor tip to Lindsey Young for the scoop, and we're willing to bet there will be more shortly on
— Auburn escaped against Vandy last night at home in a game that showed me the Commodores have some upside and the Tigers still have some strides to make. Still, how about this stat: Auburn is 14-0 on the season now and is 26-1 in its last 27 games  — the only loss was that rob job in the Final Four to eventual champ Virginia. (Insert "slug" joke here. Or maybe not.)


Today's questions

How about some true or false on a Thursday? I say true.

True or false, Jake Fromm is an all-time top-five UGA quarterback.

On this day in 2007, Steve Jobs introduced this little thing called the iPhone. True or false, iPhone is overrated.  

On this day 29 years ago, Pete Rose was officially banned from baseball for life.

Some Jan. 9 birthdays: Richard Nixon would have been 107; Gilligan would have been 85; Dave Matthews is 53; Kate Middleton is 38.

Dick Enberg also would have been 85 today. He's an all-timer, friends. Period.

J.K. Simmons is 65 today, and he's on the "That Guy" Rushmore for sure.

Wow, how's this for the best buy maybe ever if you held. Couple of dudes named Farrell and Every on this day in 1903 bought a baseball team in Baltimore, moved it to New York and they eventually became some team called the New York Yankees.

The price back then? $18,000. Today? Billions.

On this day in 1977 Roscoe Tanner won the Aussie Open. It was his only Grand Slam title.

Tanner's demons aside, that has to be on the list of the best moments for an area sports star.
What else is on our Chattanooga-area Rushmore of biggest sports accomplishments?

Go, and remember the mailbag.