It’s always sunny in the Motor City?

Dan Campbell is the early betting favorite for Coach of the Year

The early returns of NFL free agency are here, and the clear winner is the Detroit Lions — at least according to the media’s reaction. Everybody’s favorite dysfunctional franchise finished 2022 strong after an abominable start and barely missed the playoffs. Some would say they were the best team to miss the postseason, and to that, I would ask, did you see some of the teams in the postseason?

But before we dive into the hype that’s made Dan Campbell (pictured) the betting favorite for coach of the year, let’s look at the moves the experts loved.

Kings of the offseason?

The Lions improved an Achilles heel of a secondary by adding corners Cameron Sutton and Emmanuel Mosley, as well as coveted safety C.J. Gardner-Johnson. They added David Montgomery to bolster the running back depth, and retained or added pieces to both fronts.

It was enough to get the Pride of Detroit blog to aggregate various talking heads heaping atta boys upon Detroit. Rich Eisen, Kyle Brandy, and Kay Adams all were effusive in their praise, and that’s without a single draft pick, of which the Lions have eight.

The front office will be able to fix or bulk more areas with four selections in the top 55, a third-rounder, a fifth, and two sixes. And that doesn’t even include getting a fully healthy Jameson Williams, who sat out most of his rookie season while recovering from a torn ACL. Jared Goff or not, this Lions’ buzz feels eerily reminiscent of the adoration pundits had for the Eagles last year.

So Lions fans should book tickets to Las Vegas?

There’s more than just draft picks and hype that has me looking at Lions like the Eagles. The motivational/emotional style of Dan Campbell and Nick Sirianni is one in the same vein. Mix that with an appearance on HBO’s Hard Knocks, and Campbell has already endeared himself to NFL fans like he just cried for the 15th straight presser. Hell, during Week 3 of last year, bettors were still so enthused by the Lions that they were the public’s betting favorite for the Super Bowl.

Proof that the house is still undefeated aside, next year’s big game is in Las Vegas, and I wouldn’t at all be surprised if football fans were enamored by Detroit’s chances to get there. The other likeness to the 2022 Eagles is how the Lions finished the season prior. While Philly didn’t look great in a Round 1 loss to Tampa in Jalen Hurts’ first season as the starter, the team had a whiff of confidence and, more importantly, a keen sense of self-awareness as it relates to its quarterback.

Say what you will about Goff, he did get the Rams to the Super Bowl, and helmed a top-seven passing offense in 2022 while playing a key role in Detroit finishing third in total touchdowns scored. You know how many QB rooms in the NFC have a starter who’s been to a Super Bowl? It’s Detroit, Philly, Los Angeles, and Green Bay until Aaron Rodgers stops holding sports media hostage.

I really want to hop on the Lions’ bandwagon because I looked like an idiot after not buying into/actively lashing back at the Eagles. The evidence and critics indicated otherwise, and all those folks can say, “See, I know what I’m talking about,” while I’m left out in the rain with a deflated balloon.

Having said that, I still can’t do it. My bias prevented me from siding with Philly, and now it’s happening again with the Motor City. I don’t hate the Lions with a searing passion, but I do feel that passionately about the team’s ability to rear back and uppercut the city of Detroit in the balls with unrelenting efficiency.

So cast in pennies and pounds at your own risk, because I’ll be investing mine in precious metals.

Is Lamar Jackson’s mom telling teams he’s ready to move on from Baltimore?

Is Lamar Jackson ready to move on from Baltimore?

Another wrinkle has been added to the ongoing Lamar Jackson saga in Baltimore. The Ravens and Jackson aren’t any closer to coming to terms on a new long-term deal. Now it’s been reported that a representative for Jackson has allegedly been contacting teams claiming the former MVP is ready to move on from Baltimore.

This entire situation surrounding Jackson has spun out of control and has many in disbelief at how things have been handled. This latest revelation has ramped up speculation around who’s pulling the strings and orchestrating Lamar’s campaign for a fully guaranteed contract. There are people who think Jackson’s mother is telling NFL teams that her son is ready to leave the team that drafted him in the first round in 2018.

Initially, it was Jackson’s mom, Felicia Jones, who was reported as representing her son in talks with Ravens management during the 2021 offseason. It wasn’t that far-fetched that she would do so since Jones had done the talking for her son in negotiating his rookie deal a few years prior. So, while it’s possible that Jackson’s mom isn’t running the show this time around, the speculation isn’t unwarranted.

Similar to the Roquan Smith situation

What this news does, though, is it brings up an interesting aspect and something the NFL has instructed teams not to do. The league specifically instructed teams to refrain from negotiating with representatives who aren’t certified by the NFLPA. This came down last year after teams were allegedly contacted by a man named Saint Omni on behalf of former Chicago Bears linebacker Roquan Smith. Omni also allegedly helped Houston Texans left tackle Laremy Tunsil secure his three-year, $75 million contract. Tunsil got $50 million of that guaranteed with “no official” representation.

This also speaks to the NFL keeping control over what’s happening with its biggest investments. That being the players. While they may be looking out for their assets in handing down mandates like the one outlined above, it also keeps the balance of power in place. Certified agents and teams work hand in hand as agents usually represent multiple clients throughout the league. Both sides want to keep each other happy and avoid outsiders coming in, especially if they haven’t gone through the proper channels.

In Jackson’s case, having someone contact teams off the cuff when he’s still technically signed with Baltimore could be considered tampering. What the NFL does with this is yet to be seen, but if true, this could make the situation much tougher as potential negotiations progress. 

In the era of offense over everything, golf is trying to zag, and Rory McIlroy is onboard

Rory McIlroy is... in favor of this for some reason?

What would you say if I told you that baseball was capping how far a ball can be hit, basketball decided to negate shots over 30 feet, or the NFL limited how far the football can be thrown in the air? Your first reaction would probably be like mine when I read that Rory McIlroy is on board with the USGA’s proposal to limit drive distance.

In an appearance on the (ironically named) No Laying Up Podcast, the Northern Ireland golfer said:

“For elite-level play, I really like (the idea). I really do.

“I’m glad in this new proposal that they haven’t touched the recreational golfer. I know that’s a really unpopular opinion amongst my peers, but I think it’s going to help identify who the best players are a bit easier.

“Especially in this era of parity that we’ve been living in these past couple of decades.”

OK, man, whatever you say. We’re going to eliminate massive advantages of certain players, and it’s going to result in the rise of the next Tiger Woods? What kind of rough are you smoking?

Golf is already one of the most challenging sports to play, and though the scores can go super low, US Open locales still eat the lunch of most elite guys. The audience wants to watch pros do things they can’t more than they want to see a tournament where the leader isn’t under par, and if everybody is hitting the ball as far as you or I on a windy day and struggling to clear water hazards, too, that appeal is gone. Has no one rewatched Tin Cup recently? The idiocy, my god.

Other pros say rule change tries to fix a problem that isn’t there

Jon Rahm and Justin Thomas each aired their views on the proposal, with Rahm asking, “Why change what’s working?” and Thomas saying the USGA is “trying to create a solution to a problem that doesn’t exist.”

I’m not sure if they were fed the same talking points or were mind-melding, but the No. 2- and No. 10-ranked players went on to say it would be bad for the game. Rahm pointed out that it would hurt the less-powerful players who would need a 4- or 5-iron to hit the ball as far as they once did with a 7, while the longer guys like Rahm would have a more distinct advantage because they can still hit the clubs they used to.

That’s probably where McIlroy got his line of thinking considering he’s leading the PGA in distance off the tee (326 yards). The deadened balls would max out at around 320 yards, but it’s not like a governor on a golf cart that immediately hits the brakes once you reach top speed. Everyone would be using the heavy ball, so the move theoretically gives bigger hitters a leg up.

Yet fans won’t be compelled by a contrived Jack Nicklaus or a bootleg Tiger. We want an actual successor — which the PGA and USGA are well aware of and freaking out about — but not one that’s a product of a rule change.

McIlroy’s resuscitated charm back on life support

If you’re like me, the constant sniping between the PGA Tour and LIV Golf has grown stale like a rap beef on its seventh diss track. It’s the sport’s best current rivalry only nothing gets settled on the course, and we’re left with McIlroy constantly bitching about Greg Norman because reporters keep asking Rory about LIV, and Rory keeps answering because this is the most attention he’s gotten since before fans realized he’s the heir apparent to jack shit.

One of the byproducts created by the exodus of talent to the Saudi tour has been the resurgence of McIlroy. He hasn’t won a major since 2014, but did earn top eight finishes in all four majors last year, including second at the Masters and third at the Open Championship, and took home the FedEx Cup as well. Is the success because of watered-down competition? Or has his righteousness boosted him on high, soaring with greats once again via the grace of an incorruptible moral compass? I don’t know, but the latter answer sounds better in the lede of a story.

While I acknowledge that McIlroy and the rest of the golfers who didn’t defect will be on the side of history that didn’t readily accept blood money, what’s overlooked is the divide started because of the PGA Tour’s shitty payment model. The Tour’s recent changes are direct responses to LIV, and I don’t feel good about either management group even though I feel worse about one more than the other.

That brings me back to McIlroy. I appreciate that he was outspoken about players jumping leagues. It was refreshing to know that not all golfers turn into amoebas when offered absurd amounts of money. However, that’s where my affinity stops. I’m good on the sound bites, I’m good on the coverage, and I’m good on Rory. Go win the Masters and give me a reason to listen to you give an interview.

At least 1 of these 3 tight ends in the NFL Draft will be an incredible pro

Notre Dame tight end Michael Mayer runs a drill at the NFL Combine.

The NFL Draft is five weeks away, which doesn’t feel close at all, yet the more dialed-in part of the evaluation process has long been underway. The quarterbacks and certain skill players get all the pre-draft glory, but a deeper look into this year’s class shows one position group, in particular, has more than a few top-end game-changers: The tight ends. While a majority of NFL offenses have done away with every-down running backs and focused more on mobile quarterbacks who also have a decent arm, the more options to throw to the better.

Teams need elite QBs, but QBs also need weapons

As much as an elite quarterback is now one of the near-universal requirements to win a Super Bowl, having at least one elite passing target is on the list as well. For the Kansas City Chiefs, Travis Kelce is obviously better than any wide receiver they had on this year’s team. Kelce was also better than any receiver Kansas City had for its first championship with Patrick Mahomes steering the ship. Yes, better than now-Miami-Dolphins star Tyreek Hill. And I’m not saying the next Kelce is in this draft class. Calling your shot and plucking someone as one of the best to put on shoulder pads at any position is blasphemous. What I will predict is that one of the next great NFL tight ends will hear his name called by the end of the second round at the end of April. Let’s look at the contenders.

Here’s who could be the next great TE

The highest-rated tight end prospect on ESPN’s draft board is former Notre Dame standout Michael Mayer, who is their No. 9 overall prospect in the draft. Since the 2004 NFL Draft, five tight ends have been selected within the top 10 picks and Mayer will no doubt bring that number to a half-dozen. The 6-foot-4, 265-pounder consistently improved every year in South Bend and while his statistics aren’t jumping off the page as fantastic, that’s rarely a great way to evaluate potential at the next level anyway. His size and pass-catching ability make Mayer the safest bet among the tight ends in the draft. In terms of potential, I wouldn’t put Mayer No. 1, but there’s a clear top three.

Alongside former Utah legend Dalton Kincaid and Darnell Washington, who was part of Georgia’s back-to-back national championship teams, Mayer completes the trio of top prizes, among a stacked group. The chance one of the three of them lands as an All-Pro player in the next few seasons is high. Washington and Kincaid are the other two tight ends that’ll be selected who currently have first-round draft grades, and for good reason. The drop off to the No. 4-rated tight end, Luke Musgrave from Oregon State, is significant. It isn’t Wile E. Coyote, but it’s noticeable for any scout with two healthy eyes.

It can’t be understated how being part of a program that consistently wins is sexy to NFL teams. What’s the best recruiting pitch Nick Saban has to bring incredible talent to Alabama? “Look at how many of our guys have success in Tuscaloosa and after leaving my program,” Saban probably says while eating Whataburger (which is so much better than In-N-Out). Georgia’s Kirby Smart is starting to have that same swagger. And Washington will reap the benefits of that. Do you not remember five Georgia players being taken in the first round of last year’s NFL Draft? Washington will hear his name called on April 27 in Kansas City. His length and height at 6-foot-7, 270 pounds will make some team’s mouth water. You can’t grow a player in the NFL, but you can’t adopt a giant!

Then comes Kincaid, who I believe is the biggest boom-or-bust prospect of the three. And bust is relative here because I can’t see him not panning out positively in some form or fashion. He was an indelible part of Utah’s Pac-12 powerhouses of the last two years. Kincaid is 6-foot-4, 240 pounds, which is oddly the same exact measurables as Mayer, but the duo is easily discernible from each other from their playing styles. Mayer is more of your Jason Witten-type tight end. He’s bulkier, a great blocker, and has enough speed to beat linebackers off the line of scrimmage. Kincaid is more of the larger wide receiver, with the ability to twist his body and make incredible catches. The former Ute is the best pure athlete in this tight-end class and maybe the whole damn draft. A few other interesting tight-end prospects exist in Tucker Kraft, Davis Allen, and Sam LaPorta, and they could all turn into great pros. That top trio though …get them while supplies last. I’m betting they end up being constantly compared for the rest of their careers because at least one is going to be an NFL beast.

Jackass Tournament: The rest of Round 1

Image for article titled Jackass Tournament: The rest of Round 1

Welcome back to Deadspin’s March Madness-themed Jackass Tournament. Here are the rest of the results from Round 1. Yesterday’s batch is available here.

Image for article titled Jackass Tournament: The rest of Round 1

Both of these assclowns deserved to move on, but it was Jackson Mahomes taking down Jason Whitlock. The latter may be a big-mouth ignoramus whose idiocy knows no bounds, but he isn’t quite the jackoff Patrick’s little bro has proven to be. Jackson certainly has made use of his brother’s fame while using their last name as an excuse to be a deplorable human. Everything from flapping his gums way too much on social media for clout to allegedly forcing himself on a restaurant owner. Jackson’s offenses run the gamut.

Image for article titled Jackass Tournament: The rest of Round 1

Two more guys who suck horribly, but it’s Daniel Snyder walking away with the ‘W’ this time. Both have been accused of similar crimes, but Snyder’s had more instances and accusers over the years. It’s not just sexual harassment/assault allegations with Snyder. The entire Washington Commanders organization was fostering this toxic work environment. He’s also allegedly stolen money from his fellow NFL owners. You know it’s bad when that “good ol boys” club turns on you.

Image for article titled Jackass Tournament: The rest of Round 1

It would take a week to jot down the laundry list of irrationalism displayed by Hershel Walker in just the past 12 months. Kyrie Irving’s made some of the most erroneous comments, especially during his time in Brooklyn, but he’s not even close to Walker’s level. The best thing would be to lock the former NFL star away somewhere and place a chastity device over his face so he can no longer be seen or heard.

Image for article titled Jackass Tournament: The rest of Round 1

The leader of Softstool Sports, Dave Portnoy, can be insufferable, much like the Boston fan base he represents to a nauseating degree. But he’s got nothing on Skip Bayless, who’s made a career out of trolling for a living. Bayless is so down for the cause that he’s willing to downplay co-host Shannon Sharpe’s accomplishments to defend his point about an athlete (Tom Brady) with whom he claims to have no personal relationship. Skip’s been at it for decades and shows no signs of slowing down. This means we’ll likely be stuck with this asshat for another few years, at the least.

The Great Debates tournament: Sweet 16

Image for article titled The Great Debates tournament: Sweet 16

It’s Sweet 16 time. The primaries are over and it is time for the general election. In real-life debates, this is about the time when candidates would be making disingenuous retorts about each other’s bad-faith arguments.

Since this is a debate about debates, I guess you can just argue more strenuously with other Twitter users about which argument is better between who is the world’s supreme basketball player/human between Michael Jordan and LeBron James, or if Breaking Bad or The Wire is the television show most worth binge watching every summer.

Unfortunately, since the people have spoken, just like during primary season, we have to bid farewell to some memorable candidates. So, as we have done with Howard Dean, Bernie Sanders, and 776 different republicans in 2016, we say goodbye to “Is Die Hard a Christmas movie,” the Chicago vs. New York pizza rivalry, and Skip vs. Stephen A. (soccer fans, we see you.)

Be sure to go to @Deadspin on Twitter and vote on which argument you would most like to waste hours of your life screaming at another human about. If you want to catch up, check out the full field and the round of 32.

First Take Region No. 1: LeBron James vs. Michael Jordan

Image for article titled The Great Debates tournament: Sweet 16

For some the choice is obvious, for others it’s the type of sports debate that makes you feel like your T.V. is slapping you in the head at 10 a.m. Whether you hate or love this classic, it will make you feel something.

Michael Jordan is the face of the modern NBA. He took the interest that Magic Johnson and Larry Bird injected into the league in the early 80s and used it to build the first athlete economic empire. The NBA was selling its individual stars to market the games so Jordan’s agent — David Faulk — took it one step further with his client. He wanted Nike to market Jordan like a tennis star. Like a singular athlete.

LeBron James had seen the success of this his whole life and set a plan into action early. He signed a $90 million deal with Nike before he signed with the Cleveland Cavaliers. Since then, James has started a fast-food pizza restaurant and also owns a production company that remade both Space Jam and the early 1990s classic House Party.

These two are true A-list celebrities. Not just sports famous, but pop culture icons like Michael Jackson, Eddie Murphy, Jack Nicholson, etc. Also one has the highest points per game average in NBA history and the other holds the record for total points scored.

– Stephen Knox

First Take Region No. 5: Muhammad Ali vs. Mike Tyson

Image for article titled The Great Debates tournament: Sweet 16

These are two forces that the world of boxing had not seen before or since. The time in their careers when they were most dominant was short-lived, but that handful of years left a mark by which boxers are still measured.

Muhammed Ali and Mike Tyson were heavyweight boxers. This is a division in which ferocious punishment is both endured and delivered. These large men swing as hard as they can at each other. Yet, in their prime neither fighter took much damage.

Ali had near ballet movement in the ring in the 1960s. At 200-plus pounds, no one was able to close in on him. For those who believe he didn’t have power, the men he knocked out that decade might have a different opinion.

When Ali first beat Sonny Liston in 1964, he took the Heavyweight Championship from him. Sonny Liston was the baddest man on the planet and didn’t come out for the seventh round. Until Ali was stripped of his title for refusing to serve in the Vietnam War over religious objections, of his nine title defenses only two went to decision.

Tyson bulldozed his way through the heavyweight division in the mid-1980s. He was quite possibly the scariest man alive because he was knocking people out before a bag of popcorn could be popped. Fame and ego took Tyson’s Heavyweight Championship as opposed to a military draft, but at his best, his hands were real weapons.

In 11 Heavyweight title defenses — one of course the loss to Buster Douglas — only three of his victories lasted longer than six rounds. At only 5 foot 10, Tyson turned the heavyweight division into heavy bags.

At their peak, Ali and Tyson were the two best to ever put on the gloves and boots.

Stephen Knox

First Take Region No. 14: Best sports era

Image for article titled The Great Debates tournament: Sweet 16

It’s easy to romanticize the past. Times were simpler, the air was fresher, and sports were played by real men. Yes, can we please return to an era where point guards got dry-humped after stepping across half-court, Joe Theisman got crumpled into a heap of flesh and bone by Lawrence Taylor every other play, and pitchers threw curve balls until their arms fell off.

The last time two of my favorite teams were relevant was the ’90s, but I’ll be damned if I want to bring back the option, or 7-footers sweating all over each other, trying to see which team can make the most hook shots. Your dad, and, well, myself, might scream at the television when an edge rusher gets flagged for tackling a quarterback, and we overcorrect for past mistakes. Yet, give me high-octane offenses that put the best athletes in space as opposed to seeing what team can win a game of tug-of-war.

– Sean Beckwith

First Take Region No. 2: iPhone vs. Android

Image for article titled The Great Debates tournament: Sweet 16

The green bubble vs. the blue bubble.

Fashion dictates that anything a person walks out of the house with can be considered stylish if put together with intent and flaunted with confidence. However, there are usually some base requirements.

For a rapper in 2003, it meant wearing a jersey that extended to at least their mid-thigh. In the early 2010s, it meant the tighter the jeans the better for young people. Who cares if they want to procreate later in life?

Phones have been part of that as well, but in the aughts, it was mainly young people with their Razors and Sidekicks. Nowadays, an iPhone is almost considered as standard as a man wearing a tie to a business interview. How dare a group chat be besmirched with the site of that ugly green bubble. If you don’t have air pods, can you even hear?

For all of those white commas hanging out of people’s ears at the grocery store, there are still some people who are willing to part with standard formalities. They don’t need facetime, iCloud, or a phone that slows down when a new version is released.

Samsung is on its 23rd Galaxy and the NBA is advertising the new Google Pixel 7 during every game, so there are still many android users among the general population. Are those people tacky, or are they seeing with their third eye?

Stephen Knox

Siskel & Ebert Region No. 1: Cats vs. Dogs

Image for article titled The Great Debates tournament: Sweet 16

Let’s be a little more creative than splitting this down the gender line. You know cat people, I know cat people, and there are certain people who are just cat people. But this isn’t about which version of a crazy cat person or Best In Show dog obsessive is worse. It’s about the animals themselves.

The nicest dogs are as great as the nicest cats, and ditto for the worst dogs and worst cats. I just think your average run-of-the-mill (not puppy mill, please, responsible practices for both species) dog is better than an average cat. The upside of felines is less maintenance. You don’t have to walk them or make sure to let them out every so often. With dogs, you get to bring them outside and on camping trips and a lot of other places. (Probably too many, but again, let’s focus on the animals, not the terrible owners.)

I don’t know who prevails in cats versus dogs, but I do know who wins in journalists versus cats and/or dogs, so I am aware of just how pervasive this argument is.

– Sean Beckwith

Siskel & Ebert Region No. 4: Larry Bird vs. Magic Johnson

Image for article titled The Great Debates tournament: Sweet 16

In 1984 a person’s answer to this question likely depended on pigmentation. If Bruce Springsteen made you want to shake your booty you were likely a Larry Bird fan. For those who preferred Rick James, Magic Johnson was probably the player for you.

Both are two of the best players in the history of the NBA. There were similarities in their basketball strengths, but they did not play the same way.

Bird was the prototype for the modern NBA forward. Give him a crack of daylight and that jump shot is falling right out of the bottom of the net. However, if the defense cheated to close in on him, he can flick a pass over an opposing player’s head or around their back for a quick assist. He was tenacious on the glass as well, averaging 10 rebounds a game for his career. Bird would also hit the ground like Dennis Rodman for a loose ball.

Johnson combined power and speed at guard in a way that the NBA had never seen, and wouldn’t again for some time. At 6 foot 9, Johnson had the Lakers’ offense rolling at a 100-meter-dash pace from the opening tip to the final buzzer. He bullied smaller players and dribbled by bigger ones. Johnson’s priority was to find the open man, but as strange as his shoulder heave of a jump shot looked, it worked. Bird never attempted 3.5 threes per game, but Johnson did once and made 38.4 percent of them.

They not only ruled the NBA for most of the 1980s but globalized a sport that televised the NBA Finals on tape delay the year that they were drafted.

Stephen Knox

Siskel & Ebert Region No. 6: Bret Hart vs. Shawn Michaels & Vince McMahon

Image for article titled The Great Debates tournament: Sweet 16

Did Survivor Series 1997 have to go down that way?

Bret Hart was on his way out of the WWF but was still the world champion. He had to relinquish the belt before bolting for WCW. Nothing could have been worse during the Monday Night Wars for WWF than Hart showing up on Nitro with its World Championship belt.

Taking the Wrestling with Shadows documentary’s word for it, Hart would never have left for WCW with the belt. He was willing to relinquish it but on his terms since he had reasonable creative control over the final days of his contract. Hart certainly didn’t want to lose in Canada to Shawn Michaels after an anti-Canadian storyline that the WWF had been building for months alongside Hart’s anti-American one.

However, a payoff like that is how pro wrestling works. The fans get riled up about the over-the-top storylines and performances, and there is eventually a payoff. There was no better payoff for WWF fans than Hart losing the title in Canada to Michaels before he left for WCW.

Hart didn’t want to do it. He instead agreed to a disqualification that allowed him to keep the belt and then cede it to the company on Monday Night Raw.

Vince McMahon didn’t find that satisfactory even though he agreed to it — per the surreptitiously recorded conversation he had with Hart in the documentary. Instead, McMahon ordered the bell to be rung and the belt was given to Michaels. Hart spit in the face of McMahon, who was standing ringside, then later punched him in the face backstage. And with that, the Attitude era was off and running.

Stephen Knox

Siskel & Ebert Region No. 2: Lionel Messi vs. Cristiano Ronaldo

Image for article titled The Great Debates tournament: Sweet 16

The people who think Cristiano Ronaldo is better than Lionel Messi eventually bring up Ronadlo’s dating history as if that’s supposed to sway an argument. Is it really about who he’s fucked, or are you fucking him? No judgment. Just be open with yourself. Ronaldo is a genetic freak who was created to score goals and serve as a role model for how not to handle stardom.

Messi is an artist, a savant, a genius, but he’s slight. And the argument folds in on itself from there. The internet has taken this debate to places no discussion should go, and it’s beyond personal for a lot of people (mostly Real Madrid and Barcelona fans).

From a purely GOAT point of view, Messi vs. Ronaldo is the best-running GOAT debate we’ve ever had. The era of men’s tennis that’s winding down right now is close, but Ronaldo and Messi took turns winning accolades and trophies for basically two decades.

– Sean Beckwith

Pardon The Interruption Region No. 8: The Rock vs. Stone Cold Steve Austin

Image for article titled The Great Debates tournament: Sweet 16

At the time, Stone Cold was the biggest wrestler ever, by far, at least in terms of his ability to draw money. He chugged beers, talked shit, and did it with as much charisma as anybody. That’s why it was so alarming when The Rock showed up with just as much cachet, if not more. It was one of those feuds that made fans not want to pick a side.

Of course, we did, and if you chose The Rock, good for you. It goes without saying who won the post-wrestling career arc, though I feel like things could’ve gone differently for Austin without the injuries. I mean there’s a chance this debate could still go to Stone Cold, but it’s less dependent on his future actions and more about how many Black Adams the People’s (but not Box Office) Champ has in him.

– Sean Beckwith

Pardon The Interruption Region No. 12: SEC vs. the field

Image for article titled The Great Debates tournament: Sweet 16

This relatively new debate arose along with Nick Saban’s run at Alabama. The SEC learned how to game the system, which is 85 percent of college athletics and has more or less run the sport of college football since, fuck, I guess Pete Carroll’s USC tenure. Fans in the South, hell people in the South, like to remind the rest of the country that their ways are the best ways.

However, this debate is about football, not whether COVID will rise again. I’m desperately rooting against all those jackass SEC fans who show up to games dressed like they’re going to a party at the plantation because I can’t take it anymore. The conference pride is taking on a tinge of something else, and we need a respite. (Paging Lincoln Riley.)

– Sean Beckwith

Pardon The Interruption Region No. 3: 72-win Chicago Bulls vs. 73-win Golden State Warriors

Image for article titled The Great Debates tournament: Sweet 16

The 73-win Golden State Warriors are the model of modern-day basketball. Predicated on poetic off-ball movements by the Splash Brothers and Draymond Green at the nexus of his mental and physical peak, they remain the Platonic Ideal for modern basketball. The 72-win Chicago Bulls were the gold standard. Two decades earlier, the Chicago Bulls Triangle offense starring Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen were the model of consistency. In a more physical, stagnant league, Jordan was as automatic from midrange as anyone has ever been. Each team’s stans swear the other team couldn’t hang in the other’s NBA. They’re probably both wrong though. The Phoenix Suns are proof that the Bulls could still flourish today behind hyper-efficient mid-range scorers while Golden State’s analytically superior floor spacers would eat against defenses composed to battle in the trenches instead of around endless screens on the perimeter. These contrasting play styles are ripe for endless debate, which is why there have been so many through the years.

– D.J. Dunson

Pardon The Interruption Region No. 7: Breaking Bad vs. The Wire

Image for article titled The Great Debates tournament: Sweet 16

The anti-hero vs. an unflattering portrayal of America.

Both Breaking Bad and The Wire ran for five seasons. Breaking Bad actually first aired during the last few months of The Wire’s final season.

Your preference between these shows usually boils down to how you like your television world. Do you prefer that they revolve around a person or a more macro concept?

The Wire is a show about — as creator David Simon calls it — “the fall of a great American city,” A show about how, before judging the people on the corners selling drugs, one must take a look at how they got there. How their city, state, and country can turn kids into shotgun-wielding thieves.

Breaking Bad is a show about the fall of a person. Walter White is a sympathetic character at first. He is a school teacher who needs money because of a life-threatening illness — another dig at America’s shortcomings. However, in the process, he turns into a murderous drug kingpin.

While both shows are considered among the best of all time, The Wire achieved critical acclaim in the years after its final episode aired. It got buried during HBO’s golden era of television in the early 2000s. Breaking Bad was highly lauded throughout its run on cable television airwaves.

Stephen Knox

McLaughlin Group Region No. 1: Biggie vs. 2Pac

Image for article titled The Great Debates tournament: Sweet 16

Yes, Tupac Shakur was more famous. Biggie was great playing himself on Martin, but Tupac was an actor capable of owning movies. He was bigger than simply a musician. Tupac was a star.

His personality was a force both for good and bad. He could make some truly profound statements about the state of the world, but he also went to jail for sexual assault and reveled in an out-of-control persona.

Biggie was about the music, and few have ever spit better bars into a microphone. We only got two solo Notorious B.I.G. albums. His debut — Ready to Die — was of the same quality as The Chronic and Illmatic. The next one — Life After Death — was a strong project but fell just a bit short. As a musician sometimes it’s hard to get back to the hunger and raw storytelling of a debut album. Unfortunately, we never got to see him try again.

Two young people, gone too soon, who left indelible marks on American culture.

Stephen Knox

McLaughlin Group Region No. 4: Marvel vs. DC

Image for article titled The Great Debates tournament: Sweet 16

It’s been fascinating to watch the polarity of Marvel and DC’s trajectories over the last decade. On one side of the comic book franchise rift, Marvel has created the greatest shared universe known to mankind. The DCEU has manifested the messiest shared universe in the film industry. The Snyder-verse, Ezra Miller’s cult, Sad Batfleck, and the revolving door of Warner Bros. overlords, have made it impossible to keep track. Marvel has made it impossible to keep track due to their overcomplicated series of interconnected streaming series, movies that continue streaming series storylines, and multiple timelines. Marvel has hit a rough patch, but DC Comics and Marvel Comics have been in a tug-of-war for supremacy for decades. How will it end? Until we get Marvel’s starting five against DC’s starting five in a final showdown, this supes battle will rage on.

– D.J. Dunson

McLaughlin Group Region No. 3: Kobe Bryant vs. Shaquille O’Neal

Image for article titled The Great Debates tournament: Sweet 16

The greatest rivalry of the aughts. Forget Ja Rule and 50 Cent or the Indianapolis Colts and New England Patriots. After the turn of the century, everyone was tuned into The Real Housewives of Downtown LA.

A dynamic duo that has never been matched in the NBA. Two superstars in their MVP prime playing alongside each other, Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal. One had a Nintendo 64 game and the other advertised Nestle Crunch Bars and had a signature sneaker at Famous Footwear.

When playing together they were dominant, but to say their relationship had its “frosty” moments would be like saying February in Minnesota is brisk. Bryant didn’t appreciate O’neal’s offseason training and O’Neal did not appreciate any time that his name was in Bryant’s mouth.

If the Portland Trail Blazers could have made just a couple of more shots in Game 7 of the 2000 Western Conference Finals, those two likely go down as the most disappointing duo in the history of the NBA. Instead, the Blazers were as accurate as Tim Tebow at practice and a dynasty was born.

The people of Los Angeles are firmly on Bryant’s side and have been for a long time. For the rest of the county, this is certainly a “pick ‘em situation.

Stephen Knox

McLaughlin Group Region No. 7: Tom Brady tuck rule

Blue steel

Letter of the law vs. spirit of the law. That is the tuck rule game.

Tom Brady absolutely fumbled that football during the final game at Foxboro Stadium in 2002. It was ruled a fumble on the field. Anyone not blinded by New England Patriots fandom or the blowing snow would agree, but that is not the decision that the referees came to after a video review.

According to what would become known as “The Tuck Rule,” Brady kept possession of the football. He had already started a passing motion, so even though he cradled the ball like a runner, by rule the play should have been called an incomplete pass and the Patriots kept the ball.

A technicality that set the greatest dynasty in NFL history in motion.

In baseball, the “neighborhood play,” prevented situations like this. A base runner called out at second while a double play is being turned is still out if the defender’s foot wasn’t on the bag. If the foot is near the bag, we get the picture. The base runner was beaten to the bag by the defense. These days a play like that is reviewable and if the defender’s foot isn’t on the bag the runner is safe.

Is that better for the game or worse? With the tuck rule — which no longer exists — is reasonable doubt enough to overturn what looks like a clear win for the defense?

Stephen Knox

Deadspin’s 10 best stories about Donald Trump & sports

Image for article titled Deadspin's 10 best stories about Donald Trump & sports

In honor of…uh, things potentially happening today, we decided to take a look back at some of Deadspin’s best pieces on former President Donald Trump, also non-lovingly known as TFG — The Former Guy. You may think of TFG as solely a former President of the United States, but you’d be wrong! Because TFG is nothing if not sporty. He plays tennis! He owned a USFL team! He recently won a completely normal golf tournament!

So join us, won’t you? As we take a walk down memory lane and remember some our best (sports-related) TFG content.

Image for article titled Deadspin's 10 best stories about Donald Trump & sports
Image for article titled Deadspin's 10 best stories about Donald Trump & sports
Image for article titled Deadspin's 10 best stories about Donald Trump & sports
Image for article titled Deadspin's 10 best stories about Donald Trump & sports
Image for article titled Deadspin's 10 best stories about Donald Trump & sports
Image for article titled Deadspin's 10 best stories about Donald Trump & sports
Image for article titled Deadspin's 10 best stories about Donald Trump & sports
Image for article titled Deadspin's 10 best stories about Donald Trump & sports
Image for article titled Deadspin's 10 best stories about Donald Trump & sports
Image for article titled Deadspin's 10 best stories about Donald Trump & sports

Trump Is The Main Reason We Won’t Have College Football

One of many vacuous issues Trump was more fixated on than the pandemic was the college football season. He needed the distraction from his plummeting popularity numbers. Yet, one of the ironies is that his apathy for Covid nearly cost college football an entire season.


A tale of two Jerrys

Jerry Jones reportedly wouldn’t give Denver a first-rounder for WR Jerry Jeudy

Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones is never shy in front of the cameras, especially when it comes to self-promotion. We often hear from Dallas’ head honcho that he’s willing to do “whatever” it takes to win. That makes for a good sound bite to get the fan base excited, but when presented with those opportunities, Jones rarely capitalizes.

The Cowboys completed a trade over the weekend, acquiring wide receiver Brandin Cooks from the Houston Texans. The Cowboys got Cooks for a couple of late-round picks in the 2023 and 2024 drafts. Come to find out, Cooks was basically the consolation prize for Dallas as the team was in contention to land Denver Broncos wideout Jerry Jeudy. Jones reportedly didn’t want to give up a first-round pick for Jeudy.

Holding onto a first-rounder for?

While it’s understandable not wanting to let go of that first-round pick, there would’ve been a few advantages to bringing Jeudy to Big D. For one, he’s still on his rookie deal and makes a lot less money than Cooks right now. Although the Broncos’ former first-rounder will be up for an extension soon, the Cowboys could’ve gotten at least one year where his deal costs them next to nothing. Extra spending money for free agents (even your own) is always a good thing.

In terms of production, there wasn’t a huge gap between Cooks and Jeudy last year, although the latter is viewed as having the greater upside being about five years younger. Playing in that Dallas offense might have helped Jeudy grow immensely as a pro. Having played at Alabama, it’s almost expected that Jeudy will become one of the next great receiving threats in the NFL.

During Jeudy’s first three years in the league, he has yet to have a quarterback who can get him the ball consistently. We all witnessed the Russell Wilson/Nathaniel Hackett situation in Denver last season. It would’ve been difficult for some all-time greats to have thrived in that environment. But that lack of production (despite the circumstances) might have been enough for Jones to think twice about Jeudy and opt for Cooks.

That’s Jerry, though. He loves his draft picks. Some mock drafts have Dallas taking another receiver anyway, so they could still end up with another pass catcher on a minimal deal. Dallas selected a receiver in last year’s draft, taking Jalen Tolbert from South Alabama in the third round. In his rookie campaign, Tolbert barely touched the field, catching two balls for 12 yards.

Patrick Mahomes will never make as much money as Roger Goodell

This guy is gonna get paid even more

For those who want to be a multi-millionaire, the secret is not on LLC Twitter. Starting a business in which you give people personal and financial life advice on TikTok when both aspects of yours are in shambles will not result in a massive payout from advertisers. The easiest way to a life of riches is to do what Roger Goodell has done. Put his privilege to good use and be the pin cushion that protects his employers from a prying media and sports public.

According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, Goodell’s newest contract extension should be finalized next week. Per the New York Times, Goodell was already making nearly $64 million per year. That was already quite a bit more than Patrick Mahomes. The NFL’s biggest star had better continue to look to State Farm to make up the difference in income.

Born into privilege

Goodell is the son of former United States Rep. and Sen. Charles Goodell. His father served in Congress — representing the state of New York — from 1959-71. This is the world that young Roger was literally born into. He was born the same year that his father’s first term in the House began.

Goodell attended high school in Bronxville, N.Y., the same town where he conducted the 2020 NFL Draft from his home basement. Goodell has worked in the NFL since 1982 when he first served as an intern when Pete Rozelle was still commissioner. He stepped down a few years later, and Paul Tagliabue did the same in 2006. Goodell took over after Tagliabue and is responsible for taking the advantages the team owners already had, and increasing them exponentially.

Revenue splits

In both the NBA and NFL, ownership locked out the players in 2011 because they were unsatisfied with the revenue split. The players were taking home the larger percentage of revenue and ownership wanted a change. Unlike the NBA, the NFL missed no regular season action in its efforts for more cash. Before that lockout, the owners took home the first billion dollars of league revenue and the rest was split with the players receiving 60 percent. These days players receive 48-48.8 percent of league revenue.

The amount of revenue that the NFL receives is currently more than ever before. This is largely due to the fact that the NFL can guarantee something that no other live broadcast can — viewership. While Goodell was both being praised and castigated for his unilateral stiff punishment of players in the late 2000s, the number of people watching the NFL was already steadying the league for the change in television viewing habits over the next 10 years.

The Super Bowl just prior to Goodell’s takeover was the league’s highest-rated since the Dallas Cowboys defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1996. While the starting quarterbacks were Matt Hasselbeck and Ben Roethlisberger pre-motorcycle accident, this game outdid Donovan McNabb and Tom Brady the season before.

Four years into the job, Goodell presented the NFL team owners with his goal of $25 billion in annual revenue by the 2027 season. Per Sportico, the league is very much on track to reach that goal.

The dangers of playing football

While some may want to credit Goodell’s early punitive player punishments for the NFL’s dominance in content, his best work has been in keeping the team owners away from the questions about the existential danger for players in the NFL.

The team owners can answer questions about CTE and all of the other issues surrounding the health of NFL players if they so choose, but it’s Goodell who unflinchingly eats those arrows.

There is serious data available to the public that directly links playing football to future brain damage. Many players that football fans are quite familiar with have taken their own lives, and later been diagnosed with CTE. The number of brains of former football players that have been tested and confirmed to have the disease is frightening. Will Smith made a movie about it.

Yet, television’s most watched product still chugs along. In the front office, former Carolina Panthers owner Jerry Richardson was living foul, and he stepped away. Dan Snyder is still technically in control of the Washington NFL franchise, but his dirt has been public knowledge for years. His local fanbase is a top-10 American market that is disgusted with him and actively chooses to withhold their dollars from his team. Maybe that hurts the NFL, but certainly not enough for the other team owners to vote him out of the league and forcefully speed up his exit.

Goodell took over a bulletproof product and arguably his largest contribution has been to be the first NFL employee standing in front of that glass. Aim all concerns, fears, and disgust his way. He can take it. Now in his early 60s, this son of a U.S. congressman will make more money than his father could have ever dreamed.

There is great value in this country to taking blows for wealthier people as long as you’re in a position for the money to rush down as opposed to trickling.

Smells like collusion on the menu for Lamar Jackson this offseason

Seems a little odd that nobody’s making a move for Lamar Jackson.

One week into the NFL’s free agent signing period, the Baltimore Ravens have received zero offers for Lamar Jackson. The Ravens slapped the non-exclusive franchise tag on the former league MVP, which allows other teams to make him an offer that Baltimore can match. Thus far, all is quiet on the home front, which feels odd.

With all these teams that need to upgrade the quarterback position, having no one step up yet is simply astonishing. The ‘C’ word gets thrown around, but the way this has played out so far feels like collusion is in the air. Some will think that’s far-fetched, but we already know some NFL owners were not happy when the Cleveland Browns traded for and signed DeShaun Watson to a guaranteed $230 million contract that’s fully guaranteed.

In an article by NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith, released last week, he stated the following about guaranteed contract structure concerning franchised players:

“For example, the fully guaranteed structure for franchised players in the NFL CBA was created precisely because we as a union know that owners have colluded in the past – and might do it again, as they are potentially doing right now— when it comes to highly sought-after players. So for those people out there who chant the power of a mythical NFL “free market” — the market that would supposedly work to secure the highest and best contracts without a draft because all the owners want to win just the same — wake up and look at a market that is supposed to be but isn’t, and teams that should be doing everything to win but do not.”

It’s been reported that Jackson is looking for a massive deal that rivals or exceeds that of Watson’s in Cleveland. NFL owners desperately want to avoid this becoming the norm. Had it been almost any other QB in Watson’s place, it may not have been as shocking to see that type of money handed over. But this time a year ago, Watson was in the midst of dealing with more than 20 sexual assault/harassment civil lawsuits and hadn’t taken a snap since the 2020 campaign. While Watson has always denied any wrongdoing, the Browns jumping out there and offering up everything was not a good look.

Another huge, guaranteed deal for a QB is not what NFL owners want. However, Watson wasn’t the first QB to snag a fully guaranteed deal from an NFL team. He may have been the first to break the bank in such a manner, but Kirk Cousins was well ahead of the curve when he signed with Minnesota in 2018 on a three-year, $84 million fully guaranteed contract. That’s still a lot of money, but it isn’t $200 million plus in guaranteed funds. And speaking of the Vikings, it’s been reported by Jeremy Fowler of ESPN that Minnesota could emerge as a dark horse to land Jackson.

It seems like Jackson will settle for nothing less than what he feels he’s worth. And since he’s representing himself, this contract negotiation could drag on much longer than anyone expected. NFL owners will do whatever it takes to ensure guaranteed contracts worth well over $200 million fully guaranteed aren’t given out back-to-back offseasons.

Placing the non-exclusive franchise tag on Jackson was a strategic move by the Ravens. Since they can match any offer, another team would likely need to offer much more than they’d truly want to pay to ensure Baltimore doesn’t counter. The whole idea of this non-exclusive tag has collusion seemingly built into the deal. These owners are business partners and will take drastic measures to look out for each other’s interests. Look no further than Colin Kaepernick. And the same goes for Daniel Snyder’s situation. Most, if not all, owners want him out but don’t necessarily want it to be on them to make that decision.

When it comes to player contracts, however, everybody is on the same page. They always have been. QB contracts have already blown up over the past decade, and guaranteeing them entirely at such a steep price tag is not a bridge most owners are willing to cross right now.