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Gang,

Thanks for another loaded week with a lot of great exchanges. I will put the Rushmores in the comments.

Enjoy the weekend and stay safe, and sorry, no hate mail this week. Sigh.

And before we get rolling, you know the rules.

Here's some housecleaning, including TFP ace and asset Sarah Grace Taylor chatting to mayor candidate Tim Kelly and his social media jokes about Rush Limbaugh. Hmmmmm.

And here's Paschall on new UT WR coach Kodi Burns.

To the bag.

 

From Paul

Man you were so right and I didn't even realize it. Every other ESPN segment is about QB movement! Why is that? Miss you in the afternoons.

Paul—

Thanks and your question has merit. Not sure I can provide an answer that does, though.

We have long passed since into a place where as many folks are as interested in the transaction as they are the action, especially in football.

That metamorphosis has happened quietly and because of an array of factors.

There's the fantasy football angle, in which casual fans get to play GM. There's the Madden football factor, and for those of us who grew up with the most recognizable name in sports video games embraced the 'franchise' mode that included drafts and trades and the whole deal. Heck, the height of the recruiting zaniness is the college version of this too.

But most importantly, and this is across all sports, year-in, year-out, there are really only a handful of teams that have legitimate championship aspirations once the season starts.

But in free agency or in the draft prep or in trade talks, everyone feels like they are contenders. Cue Brando from The Waterfront or the fans of the Cleveland Indians talking themselves into believing in Major League.

And ESPN is catering to that in regard to the most important position in the most popular sport in America. Still, debating where Jimmy G is going to land makes me click the remote looking for a Law&Order rerun I've only watched three times.

Now breaking down the actual deals and movement is another matter entirely, and with Deshaun and Dak in play, and with the Carson Wentz deal Thursday, those are topics worthy of conversation.As J-Mac noted Thursday, I think we all thought the Eagles would get more than a third-round pick this spring and a second-round pick that could be a first-round pick in 2022 depending on how much Wentz plays for the Colts next year. (Side note: I thought it was pretty interesting and quite telling about the indifference to Wentz' skill set when our friends at sportsbetting.ag did not adjust the odds for either the Colts or the Eagles in terms of winning the Super Bowl after the deal was announced. https://sportsbetting.ag/

It also makes you wonder about the guys in the front offices of these billion-dollar NFL franchises in terms of QB evaluation. Consider these facts about drafting QBs:

- From 2009 to 2016, there were 22 QBs drafted in round one. Want to know how many of those dues are with the team that drafted them? Bagel.

- In the Super Bowl era, how many first-round QBs lifted Lombardi with the team that picked them? From 1967-2000, there were six — Namath, Griese (who went 4 overall, one spot behind some dude named Spurrier in 1967), Bradshaw, McMahon, Simms, Aikman. Since 2000, there have been five among the 58 QBs picked in the first round — Peyton, Big Ben, Joe Flacco, Aaron Rodgers and Patrick Mahomes.

Maybe one of these teams should hire Kiper or McShay.

 

From Todd

Jay what's your take on the Braves off-season moves? Did they make the right choice in signing Ozuna over a closer? What is this team's upside? Expected end result?

Todd—

I was going to spin cycle the Braves earlier this week, but as pitchers and catchers report, your question made it a natural fit for the bag.

I think the Braves got better in the offseason, and I believe that GM Alex Anthopoulos is one of the truly bright young executives in all of sports.

The addition of Charlie Morton provides another viable arm in the rotation, and you can never have too many quality starting pitchers. I love the resigning of Marcell Ozuna. Love it.

He led the NL in homers (18) and RBIs (56) last season, and as for as much as everyone bags on his defense, he won a Gold Glove in 2017 for Pete's sake. Plus, he meshes with the Braves clubhouse, something that can't be overstated for a team with arguably the best chemistry in the game.

Plus, with the universal DH looming for 2022, the back end of his four-year deal will have more position flexibility. And in an era when contracts are exploding, Ozuna's bat on a four-year, $65-million deal that covers ages 30-34, is a steal in this free agent market, especially considering the Braves' dire need of a right-handed power hitter to bat behind Freddie Freeman.

I liked nearly all of what the Braves did in the offseason to be honest, especially considering the salary/spending restrictions the ownership put on AA and Co., and that's the good news.

Now for the bad: The Braves made good moves and improved marginally — and could improve more than that if Mike Soroka returns to form this year after the Achilles tear — but in a fair assessment of the NL, the Braves regressed.

The Padres completely dominated the offseason, adding three big-name starting pitchers, including aces Blake Snell and Yu Darvish. The Braves added Morton and if Soroka is 2019-version, then Atlanta added a very strong 2 and very good 3/4 starter. The Padres added two bona fide 1s with power stuff.

Now add in what the Mets did with the trade with the Indians to secure a power closer and arguably the best shortstop in baseball in Francisco Lindor, and, well, the NL East is going to be a fight this year. Vegas set the Braves' over/under win total at 91.5 (go over) and the Mets over/under win total at 90.5.

And that's not even mentioning the Dodgers, who cruised in the World Series after rallying to be the Braves in the NLCS. Los Angeles kept the championship roster intact and added NL Cy Young winner Trevor Bauer in free agency. How good do the experts believe the Dodgers are? well, William Hill sports book at Caesar's, puts the over/under at 104.5 wins, which ties the record for the most with the 1999 New York Yankees.

So I think Atlanta got better on the field but may take a step back big picture in its chase for a second World Series title.  

 

From Jeff

Concerning your comment if Duke star Jalen Johnson is a quitter or made a good business decision to opt out and prepare for the NBA, as a proud UNC alum and lifelong Duke despiser, just get him outta there - we don't care. I like the quitter tag better though.

I'd say K's last year will be next season if not this one. Can't argue with his success, but he's a dang jerk and gets away with far too much crap. He is vile, arrogant as they come, and a horrible sore loser. He refused to shake Roy Williams outstretched (pre Covid) hand after a loss in Cameron recently and you may recall he got a pass for pulling aside an Oregon player and chastised him (made a near half court bank shot because shot clock was expiring, and still had 20 secs in the game) that helped bounce them from the Elite 8 with a 14 pt loss. Instead of the media roasting his butt, the Duke Athletic Dept released his weak quasi apology and it was read by Verne Lunquist a week later before the next game, no comments,  and that was that. He denied saying it, and if he wasn't caught in a lie because of an on court microphone, he never would have admitted it. Many, many more instances from The Rat.

I just hope they find one as hated (long list there) because it will ruin everything if we actually respect (see David Cutcliff) or even apathetic to the hire. Your earlier great statement of a long list of "punchable" Duke point guards provides an automatic list. I nominate jack(bleep) Chris Collins and they won't skip a beat. I don't think even Duke fans a generation removed could handle Bobby Hurley. Your thoughts on K and the program going forward?

Jeff—

Thanks for the question, and I have to admit, I did a lot of cheering for Duke during the late 1980s and 1990s. They were good, they were not UNC, which my best friend cheered for because of MJ, and I bought the environment, and the scrappiness hook, line and sinker.

(Side note: I actually was a Maryland fan because of Lenny Bias. My Lord what a talent. Biggest what if in sports history is not if the Blazers took MJ, it's how many do the Celtics roll of in a row with Bias on the floor with Bird, McHale and the rest. You never hear of the Motor City Bad Boys, and think how many years you could add to Larry's career with Bias' young back carrying the regular season loading the late 1980s. My word, he was amazing.)

But then I got into this business, and truth be told, I'm not sure if there's a bigger fraud in college sports than Coach K. And goodness, the tail-kissing he gets from Dickie V and far too many in my profession make me sick, and your Oregon example is one of many.

(Side note, II: Dickie V is as genuine and nice a guy at that level of success in all of sports media. He's a real prince. Truly. But why he bootlicks for the likes of Coach K and Bobby Knight is mind-blowing to me. Jimmy V was another guy that got dipped in the baptismal waters that is Dickie V. Jim Boeheim too. And yes, the V Foundation has done great work, and Valvano got knighted that night at the ESPYs, but dude was a Tarkanian-level cheater. Heck, the only one Dickie V could not completely rewrite the history of was Rick Pitino, and he makes Catholic Church look transparent.)
 
As for the future at Duke, Coach K's days are dwindling. I do not think this will be it, though. Coach K's ego won't let him walk after this debacle, COVID-related or not.

I'd put the over/under at three more seasons, depending on success. And that swings both directions. Because if Duke misses out on some big-name recruits — whether those five-stars go elsewhere or take the G-League route — Coach K may pull a back injury circa Cherokee Parks and call it quits.

As for his replacement, I think it could be any of the dudes you mentioned, but I think Tommy Amaker would be the front-runner.

 

From Scott

It's bananas.  Would love to hear your thoughts on the Chris Harrison story / cancel culture for Friday's mailbag.
 
I'm (mostly) in your camp.  I'm not a Trump supporter, though I am a conservative.  We've lost our minds.
 
Scott—

I wrote a little bit about this earlier in the week. Here's my definition, and the differences between what some are trying to change into consequence culture from Tuesday's 5-at-10:

"Cancel culture is kind of hazy and gray. It's one of the things that makes it different than consequence culture.

Alliteration may be the most linked part of the two CC-terms.

Simply put, consequence culture is something that a vast majority of folks can rationalize. Something occurred, consequence results.

You speed you get a ticket. You're a country music star and get caught saying the N-bomb, there will be backlash. You offend your customers by, well, you get the idea.

The nebulous of cancel culture is that something happens that it can be crossing an invisible line or even a line that affects a small portion of folks, but the overreaction to the offense becomes head-scratching.

Charles Blow of the New York Times wrote Tweeted that, "Once more THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS CANCEL CULTURE. There is free speech. You can say and do as pls, and others can choose never to deal this [sic] you, your company or your products EVER again. The rich and powerful are just upset that the masses can now organize their dissent."

That's too big a brush, for me, and in terms of the celebrities we frequently say have been cancelled — people like Roseanne or JK Rowling or Colin Kaepernick — are too wealthy to feel the brunt of cancel culture more times than not.

Sure, they feel the arrows and angst of emotional backlash and criticism. The real victims are the everyday folks, especially the egg shells the modern educational system must tippy-toe through.

Be it a Black SRO who was fired using the N-word in context of telling students not to call him the N-word (he was thankfully later rehired), the teacher who was fired for using the proper gender pronoun of a student rather than the student's pronoun of choice, the USC professor who was suspended for using a Chinese word that sounds like the N-word in a class in a lecture about how different languages can be misconstrued, or even the lesser-known ESPN tennis broadcaster who was fired for the interpretation of the homonym 'Guerrilla" in describing Venus Williams tennis style.

Misdeeds that result in action are consequences. Misunderstandings or the misplaced anger of the social media morality mob that revolves around the angst of who can be the most upset is the root of cancel culture.

At least, that's my difference and definition."

As for the controversy with Chris Harrison and The Bachelor, well, I was completely unaware of it until last weekend. Never watched a moment of that franchise.

Man, I don't know what the right decision is on these things, but I do know you have to be amazingly careful what you say. It can cost you your job. Trust me on that one. (Side note: It's really through the looking glass, though, when shows like the Bachelor, which have made millions through the exploration of simple-minded, good-looking people who are more than happy to trade self-respect for 15 minutes of fame and a shot at stardom becomes the litmus paper on race relations and compassions.)

I believe consequences that can help us treat each other with more respect should be viewed as a good thing. I also believe the quick-trigger cancel culture that exists that is fueled by the morality mob on social media that makes folks afraid to have a meaningful conversation on meaningful topics like race is counterproductive and dangerous.

So it goes, I guess. I think maybe it's time I heeded what Brian Fontana told Champ Kind, "Take it easy Champ. Why don't you stop talking for a while."

some text
Jay Greeson
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