Utah Jazz Trade Donovan Mitchell + 2022 NFL Season Preview | Crooked Media
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September 06, 2022
Utah Jazz Trade Donovan Mitchell + 2022 NFL Season Preview

In This Episode

Welcome to a special post Labor Day edition of Takeline. Jamel Johnson, host of the “Air Buds” and “Sorry We Love Football” podcasts, and Zach Harper of the Athletic host this week’s episode while Jason Concepcion enjoys a well deserved week off.  The Donovan Mitchell Saga ended with the Utah Jazz trading the Spyda to the Cleveland instead of the New York Knicks as widely expected, and Eric Walden of the Salt Lake City Tribune joins Takeline to help make sense of it all. Jamel and Zach then preview the upcoming NFL season with Jamel’s “Sorry We Love Football” co-host, Dan Hartigan.






Jamel Johnson Watching Ben Stiller watch Rafael Nadal lose in Rafael Nadal’s family section was everything I needed.


Zach Harper I don’t even know why I don’t like him. I do know why I don’t like him. I don’t like I mean, it’s not necessarily his fault, but like he’s got to do something about his hair. It’s a whole Trae Young situation, right? Like, it’s just like it’s not good. It’s not horrendous. But there’s a problem here that could be fixed. Look, man, I’m out here representing liquid collagen, and. Okay, I take liquid collagen and every day for my joints.


Jamel Johnson Let’s go.


Zach Harper It’s had a great effect on my hair. It makes it fuller. It’s a great thing, right? But you can’t go out there with all that money. I’m broke and I’m and I’m doing this. You can’t have all that money and just in and look like Homer Simpson up top.


Jamel Johnson Rafael Nadal’s hair has a lisp.


Zach Harper His hair just sounds like an interview with Drew Barrymore.


Jamel Johnson Hello and welcome to a special edition of Takeline. It is post-Labor Day, but the unions are still working and we’re still striking. We’re striking hard for you this week. I am Jamel Johnson filling in for the lovely Jason Concepcion, who he’s got a court today. Prayers to him and his family.


Zach Harper Good. Just good luck, man. Just good luck to Jason.


Jamel Johnson Good luck. Hope you beat the case. You know what I’m saying?


Zach Harper Yeah.


Jamel Johnson That is the lovely voice of Zach Harper, of the Athletic. You hear him? We’re here. How you doing, Zach?


Zach Harper Oh, man, I’m still getting, I’m still getting over a wedding this past weekend where I’m pretty sure at one point, my blood was 60% bourbon. I like it is. It was bad.


Jamel Johnson How does that feel when it’s coursing through your veins? Is it like a sweet burn?


Zach Harper At the time it felt great. At the time it you know, my feet were moving. I was in a good mood. I’m wanting to take pictures. I’m jumping into videos I shouldn’t be jumping into, like, you know, I, you know, I’m feeling great at the time. And then I was hung over for 24 straight hours, I think. And that’s that’s the part. They don’t tell you about that.


Jamel Johnson Yeah. We’re going to tell you a little bit more about that in the show this week. We got Eric Walden of the Salt Lake City Tribune to talk about some NBA basketball and Dan Hartigan, of a show called, let me see if I can read this right, Sorry, We Love Football. Never heard of it. Anyway, so some news happened this week. New York City finally got a release date for the next JD and the straight shot album.


Zach Harper Yeah.


Jamel Johnson Can’t wait to hear. I think he’s going to come with some Caribbean vibes on this next one.


Zach Harper I do love the idea of him. Just go. What did Drake just do? I’ll beat it.


Jamel Johnson I’ll doublitg down. Yeah. Oh, More house. Oh. And Donovan Mitchell got traded to the Cavs.


Zach Harper That was a surprise move. That was a legit as someone who, you know, I’m not a news breaker, but I hear some things like I knew the Cavs had been interested, but from everything I had heard. I bought into the propaganda of just it’s the Knicks and then it’s everybody else with these offers.


Jamel Johnson Do you really think, okay, New York City is the city that invented credit card scams?


Zach Harper It sure did.


Jamel Johnson Did they really believe that they were going to get Donovan Mitchell?


Zach Harper From everything I heard, like, yes, they thought that their their trade package was was going to trump everything. And and here’s the thing. Like we all we always get caught up in the stuff of like this team has no leverage like Donovan Mitchell wants to get out of there, Salt Lake City has no leverage. Jazz have no leverage like the, you know, Zion National Park is no leverage. Like there’s nothing there’s nothing, nothing in the state of Utah that’s going to have any leverage in this situation.


Jamel Johnson We’re canceling the show. Leverage, Leverage. Nobody’s watching Leverage.


Zach Harper No one’s watching leverage. It doesn’t exist. And then people don’t understand. It’s like it literally just takes one other team saying, hey, we’ll make a trade with you. And then all of a sudden the team has leverage. Like once you have a second trade partner, you have leverage, and the Knicks seem to forget that. And Jamel, I don’t know how into this you are, but he’s a good player. But the idea that Quinton Grimes would be the breaking point in any trade is astonishing to me. And again, I want to say, I think he’s a really nice young player, but that shouldn’t be the that shouldn’t be the back breaker in anything.


Jamel Johnson I 100% agree. You forget this is Wizards fan number one. We held onto Otto Porter for so long.


Zach Harper So long.


Jamel Johnson Like some people still subscribe to the Beanie Baby way of thinking, oh, don’t don’t get rid of your Beanie Babies. They’re going to be worth something. No, they’re literally called Beanie Babies, man. Flip them shits as soon as you can.


Zach Harper Yeah, you have to.


Jamel Johnson And I’m looking at you. Talen Horton-Tucker. Hey, how the hell? I just don’t even understand how the Lakers held on to him as long as they did.


Zach Harper It’s like they had a rare coin and then just decided, like, what if I use, you know, those smash pennies you can get it any like any tourist attraction? They would just have like the giant ball of yarn, the biggest ball of yarn in the world. They’re like, we have this rare coin, but, you know, love the smash penny right now. Like Patrick Beverley is the smash penny. Like, that’s what you like. You think they can still be effective, right? You can cut some with it like you. Like you can do some things with it, but like, that’s what it is. It’s a smash, penny.


Jamel Johnson If you need to cut fruit with it, you can.


Zach Harper It’ll happen. You know the trick that they tell you to do with your car key or your house key or you’re like, hold it between your knuckles, in case you think someone’s, like, following you, they’re going to try to jump you. You can do that with like you’ll cut into your own hand, but you can still cut somebody with that thing. But Talen Horton-Tucker was an alleged rare coin that they just smashed into Patrick Beverley.


Jamel Johnson This I shouldn’t even be telling our listeners, but if you go to the Clippers fan store, they have a Patrick, they have a slew of Patrick Beverley merch.


Zach Harper They sure do.


Jamel Johnson On clearance right now. As soon as this show is over, I’m buying myself a 2X Mr. 94 Feet shirt. It just says Mr. 94 Feet on it and I will be wearing it to the next formal I get invited to. Speaking of formal gatherings, you were at a beautiful union this weekend was our guy Ian Karmel. Peace to the general. See you soon. Congratulations on the nuptials. How was the wedding?


Zach Harper It was great. It was great. The lovely Dana Schwartz looked amazing. The lovely Ian Karmel looked amazing. The vows were spectacular. I mean, she’s a professional. She’s a number one bestselling author and he’s a professional comedian, a head writer for a major TV show. Like, you know, they were going to be good vows. But I’ll just tell you this. I don’t know. I don’t even know I don’t even know if I’m allowed to say this. He started off his vows with facts about the movie Shrek and how well it did and how well it was received, because their first time on a podcast together they argue this. She said Shrek is not a good movie, and so this has been a long go and beef in their everlasting love. And so he literally started out with Shrek, made $267 million, is an 88% score on Rotten Tomatoes, 92% audience or whatever those numbers like that’s what he started out with and it and that was I think that was the low point of the that’s how great this whole wedding was. And.


Jamel Johnson My goodness.


Zach Harper We had, you know, there was there was a pretty good playlist going on. There was, you know, he had a sword to cut the cake. He had sword made to cut the cake.


Jamel Johnson It was braveheart shit.


Zach Harper And open bar, you know. Yeah.


Jamel Johnson Okay, quick one last thing about the wedding. The funniest family member you encountered.


Zach Harper Oh.


Jamel Johnson If at all. Maybe you didn’t.


Zach Harper I mean.


Jamel Johnson Look, the fans get tired, but I figure, you know, this is a podcast union. Everybody’s moving around. It’s pretty loose.


Zach Harper Both families did great speeches, absolutely great speeches. But it is Ivan Karmel, Ian’s dad, who just he took he took a he sent a stray, Shane, towards his way at one point of just like saying, I can’t believe he’s wearing a tie. Just it was out of context. Like it was unnecessary, but it leveled the entire crowd. And Shane’s just sitting there. He was going, Oh, great, here. I got like, you know, just yes, it was the perfect shot at someone for no reason. And so Ivan Kamal gets the the head the head spot over I would say the Schwartz siblings, they would be second for me.


Jamel Johnson Okay, that’s fair. That’s fair. Can’t wait to see him in the rematch.


Zach Harper Yes. The rubber match after that, too, because it’s you know, it’s going to be one one.


Jamel Johnson Speaking of matches, I’m see I’m getting I get louder when it’s wait time.


Zach Harper I love the Segway. The Segway volume is great, right?


Jamel Johnson 142nd U.S. Open is taking place right now. Shout out to everybody in Queens. Kool G Rap, the lemon ice king of Corona. All my folks. Anyway, did you watch Serena’s last match?


Zach Harper I saw Serena’s last two matches because I got to be honest, I even though I do cover, you know, some professionals, I had no idea what’s going on the first few days. No idea. All of a sudden they’re like, Oh, Serena’s in the second half of the second match. What are you talking about? Second match of the of the U.S. Open. And so I saw her. What a champion. She intimidates me in a way that I can’t fully explain. Like it elicits just like these feelings of absolute mediocrity in me, where I’m just like, I’ll never be good at anything. Never like that. The way she’s hanging on to her greatness now you’re never going to reach that. Doesn’t matter. She’s so good.


Jamel Johnson And she’s like, and then she’s upset after the match. It’s like, Oh, man, I should have started training sooner. It’s like, Dog, you’re 40.


Zach Harper Yeah, you’re fourty. I’m 40. Like.


Jamel Johnson It’s okay.


Zach Harper I hurt. I hurt my back a couple weeks ago. No, this is not a lie is not a joke. I was picking up hoodies that were on the ground. I had three hoodies that just fell on the ground. I bent over to pick them up and I hurt my back.


Jamel Johnson Hoodies get heavy, man.


Zach Harper And I didn’t. I didn’t lift with my knees, you know, like, it just. It was all bad. Yeah, it was all bad, but. And she’s not here. I only made it to the third round of the of the 142nd U.S. Open, which was counting. They could have set any number right? They’re like the 400th U.S. Open. We would have been like, maybe we turn it we turn ahead and raise an eyebrow there. Well, 142 sounds made up to me. There’s not 142 of anything.


Jamel Johnson Well, jellybeans in a jar.


Zach Harper That’s a great. You know what? No.


Jamel Johnson No, the only thing.


Zach Harper Yeah, I think you’re right.


Jamel Johnson So, man, congratulations to Ila Tomjanovich who beat her in match. We wish you the best and good luck with your tennis thing. But I think Serena had a shot. I think she, you know, like the champion’s mentality, kind of bit her in the middle of the match. There was the second set. They had, like, an eight point tiebreak where it’s like. Just let her take that point and then take the ball back and serve for the win. But she was just like, Nah, fuck that. This is my core.


Zach Harper That’s how you become the greatest, right? Just like that mentality is like, yeah, I’m bit her that time, but how many times she’s been like, no, fuck this. Like, no one’s getting anything off me like.


Jamel Johnson It did not bite her. 23 other top 23 Grand Slam titles, which is insane, which is millions of dollars. Also, you got to note in women’s sports, tennis. Is the most money you can make.


Zach Harper Mm hmm.


Jamel Johnson The nine of the actually shooting, eight of the top ten most papered up female athletes do play tennis. Serena is right there at the top of the list with Naomi Osaka, which I think some of her money is nft’s. So I don’t know if.


Zach Harper It’s probably a lot of Bitcoin in there. She’s young, like it probably. She was probably number one by a wide margin before. And now this this past year is kind of it’s kind of dipped a little bit. But shout out to shout out to Serena. Shout out to you know, if you’re still grifting off nfts respect.


Jamel Johnson Hey, man, look, I hope your your Apes are more bored than ever. So on the men’s side, the U.S., the top U.S. men’s player left is from the DMV area, shouts out to Hyattsville, How about the massive tuxedo in Forcville. I used to give money over there. I give my guy, Frances Tiafoe. He’s 24 and he beat Rafael Nadal yesterday in front of Ben Stiller and various other celebs.


Zach Harper Ben Stiller loves.


Jamel Johnson Watching Ben Stiller watch Rafael Nadal lose in Rafael Nadal’s family section was Everything I needed.


Zach Harper Is there is a there is a joy to, I don’t even know why I don’t like him, I do know I don’t like him. I mean it’s not necessarily his fault, but like he’s got to do something about this hair. It’s a whole Trey Young situation, right? Like, it’s just like it’s not good. It’s not horrendous. But there’s a problem here that could be fixed. Look, man, I’m out here representing liquid collagen. You know, I take liquid collagen and every day for my joints.


Jamel Johnson Let’s go.


Zach Harper It’s had a great effect on my hair. It makes it fuller. It’s a great thing, right? But you can’t go out there with all that. But I’m broke and I’m and I’m doing this. You can’t have all that money and just in and look like Homer Simpson up top like it doesn’t work that way,Jamel, how does he do that?


Jamel Johnson Because he’s so focused on winning. There’s no time. There’s no style.


Zach Harper He lost in front of Ben Stiller. He lost in front of us a silver fox. It was just a way to rip for his age. Like, I like I don’t know. I don’t like that I don’t like how in shape Ben Stiller is. And then Rafael Nadal has got the weird thing where that one arms is way bigger than the other. Yeah, I don’t like it.


Jamel Johnson He is. Rafael Nadal’s hair has a lisp.


Zach Harper His hair just sounds like an interview with Drew Barrymore. Yes.


Jamel Johnson Up next from the Salt Lake City Tribune, Eric Walden.


Zach Harper <A.D.>


Zach Harper Have you checked on your friends who are Knicks fans recently? Because the savior that was coming to the Garden is no longer coming to the garden, except I guess, a couple times a year to to be an enemy for the Cleveland Cavaliers. But after the Knicks refused, I mean, flat out refused to include Quintin Grimes into any deal for Donovan Mitchell. The Jazz turned around and said, You know what, we’ll send him to the Cleveland Cavaliers. Everyone thought they were out of the spider sweepstakes. Turns out they got it. They won. They had the winning ticket. It was Lauri Markkanen, it was Ochai Agbaji, it was Collin Sexton on the sign and trade. It was 3 first round picks unprotected more than what the Knicks would give up. So here to help us react to this incredibly surprising trade, Eric Waldon of the Salt Lake City Tribune. Eric, welcome to Takeline. Jason Concepcion, a Knicks fan, curiously not here this week as we are talking about this trade. And so we’re on some substitute teacher behavior right now.


Eric Walden I can’t imagine why he would skip this one.


Zach Harper It’s curious. You know, I just saw him at a wedding. He seemed like he was ready to work. Now, all of a sudden there he’s just gone because the Jazz said, no, thank you.


Eric Walden And I can only imagine that you didn’t bring in your your athletic cohort, Tony Jones, because you want to keep this like fairly PG rated for the masses.


Zach Harper Yeah, I just didn’t want to talk about the Mets, you know, like he was just going to turn into a conversation about the Mets, which, by the way, the lead in the standings over my Atlanta Braves also dwindling quite a bit, but.


Eric Walden Oh Braves fan congratulate.


Zach Harper Oh, boy. Yeah, absolutely. But yeah, Eric, I guess, like, how surprised were you that a deal got done when it did?


Eric Walden I was surprised that it was the Cleveland Cavaliers. Right. Like I heard a few months ago that the Jazz had some level of interest in Collin Sexton. But, you know, like, okay, so he’s a guy who’s reached restricted free agency in Cleveland. Clearly, there was not, you know, agreement between those two sides on on a long term deal. And even knowing that it still didn’t really, you know, pop in my head that like Cleveland was a legit option for this to happen because we just kept going back to the Knicks. We kept going back to their years long interest in him. Right. Like this was not a relatively new thing. We kept going back to the fact that they had a bunch of young players to the Jazz were interested in. They had all their own future picks. They had some other teams’ future picks. Like if the New York Knicks wanted to get this done, there was no reason that they shouldn’t have been able to. So when the news pops up from Logan Shams and and Chris Haynes, that, you know, with the deal with the details of this, it’s like. Wow. You know, it did seem a little bit out of whack. It wasn’t out of left field that the Jazz traded Donovan Mitchell. That was that was a foregone conclusion that that was going to happen. It was a matter of the timing. They clearly wanted to get the deal done before training camp. They didn’t want to create a circus around, you know, first time head coach Bill Hardy going into his first training camp. But, you know, Danny Ainge and Justin Zanik were also willing to wait for, you know, the price they wanted. And man, once that RJ Barrett thing happened. This thing with Cleveland got hammered out pretty fast.


Jamel Johnson So the Jazz have finally blown it up, which I know a lot of NBA fans have been waiting for this to happen for years. Years and years and years and years. And here we are. This is the brand new Jazz. This ain’t your nephew’s Jazz. Completely different look. We’ve seen Danny Ainge pull this a couple of times in his GM career. What do the new Jazz look like going forward? Is it a tank of thought? Is it a Toyota tank-a-thon right away? Are they going to try to win some games next year?


Eric Walden I mean, I don’t understand why they would try to win some games, right? I mean, if you’re in a position where you’re getting rid of Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell and you’re saying, all right, we had, you know, an arguably really good team that we didn’t ever believe was maybe just going to get to that great level. And you decide, okay, you know, we’re stuck in terms of our future cap situation. We don’t have a ton of our own future draft assets because they’ve had to expend a few. Getting rid of bad contracts that they wound up regretting. Derrick Favors, Tony Bradley, Ed Davis, etc.. The list goes on. Once you reach that point, you decide. All right, Rudy’s out of here. Donovan’s out of here. We’ll probably see Bojan Bogdanovic be out of here. Jordan Clarkson be out of here. Maybe Mike Conley be out of here. At that point, I. And Tony Jones and I have argued about this. Right. Because he’s under the impression that the Jazz’s plan is to be pretty bad, but not horrific, because it’s his understanding they don’t want to be horrific because they feel that it sets a bad culture and sets a bad precedent to just outright lose all those games. I’m of the opinion you’re taking fires on a bunch of guys who like of everyone they got back. The oldest players are Lauri Markkanen and Malik Beasley or 25 years old. Right. And you get a bunch of guys who are 23, 22, 21, you got a couple rookies coming in for the 2022 draft. You’ve got 13 picks now, 13 first round picks between now and 2029. You have no idea who’s going to be on this team, you know, two years down the line. So I don’t think it makes any sense to say, well, we’re worried about, you know, instilling a losing culture among the guys who will be here down the road. For me, like go all in and, you know, be as bad as you can, you know, set yourself up to get Victor Wembanyama or one of the top three. You know, like if you’re going to if you’re going to be bad, just go all in and be very bad.


Zach Harper Well, yeah. I’m curious because the jazz organization has often kind of championed that, like we don’t just go out and tank, like we’re always trying to put a good product on the floor and everything. And, and I know that was previous team ownership. And so maybe, maybe Ryan Smith kind of feels a different way about this. But what do you think like the fan base’s capacity is for enduring losing years? Because that isn’t a very easy sell on a on a team where you’re like, hey, please come buy season tickets, right? Get in for one of these draft picks is going to turn into something. So you want to get in now with the season ticket so that when this draft pick hits, whoever that may be, you can resell these things on whatever ticket app we’re we’re sponsored by.


Eric Walden It’s a good question, right. Because I think, you know, it was hard enough for some fans to come to terms with the idea of of a tear down and rebuild to begin with, because, you know, in their mind, like, it’s not exactly a secret that Salt Lake City is not a destination attraction for top level NBA free agents. Right. You can go back to the you know, in more recently the Golden State nightlife situation. Right. And then if you want to go way back, you’ve got, you know, the Derrick Harper and Rodney Stockley situations from from way back in the day. So a lot of fans here are looking at this and saying we had two, three time All-Stars, one of whom is 30, the other of whom is about to turn 26. They’re both under team control for at least three more years apiece. Why are we taking that situation? Which has been a good one. You know, this team that made six consecutive playoffs had the best record in the NBA, not this most recent season, but the one before that, you know, and they don’t understand it. They understand we had a good thing going here and they don’t understand the rationale of there wasn’t really a pathway to take that team to the next level. And they’re saying, well, you know, what’s the big deal? Other people fully get that. They understand from a logical standpoint why the front office is making these moves, why they’re doing what they’re doing, hoping that by taking a few steps back, they can eventually take more steps forward. That said, I don’t think anyone is prepared for the idea like this turning into a situation similar to the process in Philadelphia, for instance. Right. I think it’s everyone’s hope that it’s like, well, hey, you know, or.


Zach Harper Whatever the hell the Thunder are doing right? Where they just like every February we shut down our good players and like we throw out 18 year olds.


Eric Walden I think the fans here are thinking, okay, we’ll get Victor Wembanyama, we’ll get another really good pick. We’ll have a bunch of available cap space. We can convince some guys to come here. And I think the general hope is like within three years that this is a playoff team again. Is that impossible? No, but. Is it likely necessarily? I also don’t know if we can say that. You know, you look at these other teams, you know, with the Sixers took longer than three years. The Thunder obviously taking longer than three years. And who knows? You know, maybe if they land Victor Wembanyama, maybe he is just like that transcendent immediately that he can elevate, you know, a bad team to being something better. And then they can go out and expend all that other draft capital they’ve acquired and bring in some guys around him and who know, you know, maybe theoretically they can be good again that quickly. But just the history seems to say that’s not likely. And I do wonder if, you know, three years down the road if the Jazz are still bad and still in the lottery. Yeah. How do the fans react to that? Because they’re used to winning.


Zach Harper How does that work? Right. Like, how does that sell? I also think it might be disorienting to the fans if they see a French big man who knows how to dribble a basketball. But I just I don’t know if they can handle that. Ouch.


Eric Walden Yes.


Jamel Johnson That’s a fair statement. Okay. Well, let’s ask about we got another guy, Collin Sexton seems to be a forgotten man in NBA lore. But I mean, he’s pretty young. He’s averaging 20 plus in limited games last year. How much faith do you have in the team building around him?


Eric Walden I guess the question is, is he a guy to be built around? Right. Like, you know, to your point, yes. You know, obviously, he had the meniscus injury this past season, only played 11 games. But the season before that, I want to say 24 points per game around like 37, 38% from the three point line. So like in theory, some promising stats. There are a lot of people who’ve been favorably comparing his production in year three to what Donovan Mitchell did, saying, hey, you know, it’s not that far off. These guys are pretty similar. Then when you kind of hear the critiques of Collin Sexton’s game and the reason why the Cavaliers were not necessarily enamored of making him the long term backcourt partner of Darius Garland, you know, the fact that he tends to get kind of single minded when he gets the ball, he’s not necessarily looking to pass to his teammates all that often. The fact that some of his shot selection is dubious, the fact that he’s not been a quality defender, I mean, I guess from that perspective we’re seeing increasing similarities to Donovan Mitchell in some respects, but it’s a worthy gamble, right? If you’re going to trade Donovan Mitchell like you’re getting a guy who has been more productive than, say, RJ Barrett to this point, who’s going to be cheaper, far cheaper now than RJ Barrett will be over the next four years. So it’s a worthwhile gamble, right? You’re set to be bad. Take a look. See what you can do with this guy. See what Will Hardie and Alex Jensen and the coaching staff here in Salt Lake City can do to develop his game. You know, this is an organization that’s been known for developing players like. It’s easy to think of Donovan Mitchell as a star now. Right. But he was a guy who was taken 13th overall who was traded for Trey Lyles on draft night, right by Rudy Gobert, three time, three time defensive player of the year, three time All-Star, four time, all NBA. He was taken 27th overall. Right. The Denver Nuggets basically sold him for a few million dollars. And this is a guy who spent his first season getting chewed out for his play in the G-league right at first for not doing the things they wanted. So it’s an organization that has a history of developing guys, whether it’s those extreme cases, whether it’s guys like Joe Ingles, Royce O’Neal, Sylvester Degrees, you know, the question will be how does this new kind of regime fit that pattern, fit that pathway? Because obviously Will Hardy is not the same as Quin Snyder, but he did retain a few of his coaches who kind of have that reputation. So, you know, I like the gamble. And if Collin Sexton winds up being able to kind of shed some of those bad habits and become a more complete player, it was a great gamble to get him in in exchange for Donovan. And if not, he’ll be two years down the road. Detritus shipped elsewhere for more assets.


Zach Harper Speaking of Donovan, I’ve never seen an NBA player get blown by consistently on just straight dribbles. Right. Just like not like Jalen Brunson wasn’t putting moves on him. It was just dribble step and he’s by him. And I wonder like, how much of how much of Donovan Mitchell’s kind of regression last year or maybe plateauing is a better way was that just like this team doesn’t like each other any more? There’s more there. Did he just get, like, complacent? Like, I’m the big star here. I don’t really need to do all this stuff. Or is there is there like another level that you can see unlocking in Cleveland, where it’s the excitement of like, I don’t know, like two, three years ago with Donovan where everyone thought like this kid’s like, you know, on the ascension again, like you said, multiple time all star like you, he’s got a lot of like good stats in his way. He also has some bad stats in his way. Rudy got mad at him for never passing to him, even though Rudy can’t catch anything. So like outside of that like, I wonder if you see Donovan in a new environment, like take his game to another level immediately, or if that has to be kind of coached out of them.


Eric Walden That’s going to be an interesting thing to see what happens in that regard in Cleveland, because Donovan, as he’s so frequently pointed out in Utah during his time here, he was drafted not as an offensive superstar, but as a as a guy with some offense who was thought to have, you know, defensive impact. Right. Like his draft comp was Avery Bradley. Right. And so he’s told the story a million times during his time here in Salt Lake City, during his years here, that he was brought in to be a defender. He intended to make his his impact on that end.


Zach Harper Then what happened?


Eric Walden I mean, it came as a shock that he’s as good offensively as everybody.


Zach Harper They’re also shocked this is bad defensively as he is.


Eric Walden Right. And so that’s a thing. Every single year he’d come into training camp and he’d say, this is the year where I’m going to take that step up defensively. Right. I did the same thing last year and at the start of the season you could see him making a little more effort on that end. But then, you know.


Zach Harper It’s a lot of work, man. I get it. I don’t play defense. I play defense for ten years.


Eric Walden Like we can politely say that it went by the wayside.


Zach Harper I think the nicest way I could put it is he was the worst defender I’ve ever seen during the playoffs. Like, that’s like he was that bad and.


Eric Walden That’s the thing, right? So it’s like it was a known thing here in Utah that like he put in so much work on the offensive end that he basically just, you know, was not doing a ton on the on the defensive side. And during the regular season, you can get away with that to a degree, although, you know, the sheer number of losses that the Jazz had this last season in which they were up double digits and wound up blowing the lead and losing the game, I think you can wind up going back and saying, you know, hey, maybe if Donovan Mitchell like puts in 5 to 10% more effort on the defensive side, he’d probably win some of those games. But then, yeah, you get to that playoff series against Dallas and all those shortcomings got put on display to a national audience. Right. And I think the fact that, like not a lot of people were making it a point to watch Jazz games on, you know, league pass or whatever before that. And now all of a sudden are like witnessing this firsthand. Like the shock was palpable, right? Like there were people were like, oh my God, I did not realize Donovan Mitchell was that bad defensively. So I guess all of that is a long way of saying. He talks a good game about wanting to play defense and wanting to make an impact there. We’ll see if he’s also spoken throughout the years about wanting to bring a championship to the organization he plays for. So maybe JB Bickerstaff is the guy who gets through to him. If you’re really serious about that, it’s time to just quit talking about playing defense and actually follow through.


Jamel Johnson Okay, so the Cavs plan is to just have two guards be 6’1 and.


Zach Harper Yeah, but one of them used to be a defender, you know.


Jamel Johnson Let me ask you all this straight up. Does this trade make the Cavs better than the Bulls? Forget the Bucks, the Chicago Bulls. I feel like it’s still close. I think the Chicago might still have a little edge on them still.


Eric Walden I think I would pick Cleveland. Right. You got Evan Mobley, you got Jared Allen, two guys who can play kind of a pseudo Rudy Gobert role in like kind of erasing the sins of an undersized backcourt, which he had a lot of experience doing here in Utah with, you know, 6’1 Donovan Mitchell and six but Mike Conley his last few years. I like their overall talent better. I feel like, you know, the Cavs were a decently solid defensive team. I think Evan Mobley is just going to get better. I feel like the thing they were lacking was a consistent go to guy on the offensive end. Like I like Darius Garland. Donovan Mitchell likes Darius Garland. But was he a guy who you could count on to get you those tough buckets in a playoff situation? Before this Dallas series Donovan Mitchell was definitely that right. He’s a guy who the last few seasons has averaged 25 a game, the regular season, and he’s had some absolutely epic playoff performances where generally he’s taken it to the next level. And I think now being surrounded by the cast that he is in Cleveland like. If their perimeter defense can hold up at all, if Isaac Okoro can be decent at all. I just feel like they’ve got more pieces than the Bulls do.


Zach Harper Yeah. Also, one of those teams was Nikola Vucevic, which is a key member. And I just I’ve never I’ve just never understood it. I just it’s no disrespect to Zach Lavine and DeMar DeRozan, who I love, but, you know.


Jamel Johnson Yeah, yeah.


Zach Harper Vucci Mane isn’t a guy that’s going to, you know, go up there and take it to the next level.


Jamel Johnson I’m a Vuce truther, baby.


Zach Harper I once got in trouble with the Orlando Magic for during an All-Star Game saying, wow, this is 23 of the greatest players in the world and Nikola Vucevic and they did not like that. The fans didn’t like, the team didn’t like that.


Jamel Johnson You get letters from the GM of the Lakeland Magic.


Zach Harper I heard that. Yeah, I heard some things there. Eric I’ve always wanted to do this of, you know, the move where you like flick a lit cigaret into like a pool of gasoline and walk away as an explosion happened. So I want to ask you about a local story. Before we get you out of here. Is there racism in the state of Utah? Because there is his situation with the Duke volleyball player. It’s a back and forth of whether this person was called a racial slur during a volleyball match at BYU. And so now we don’t have to get into like what happened there necessarily. But what’s the discourse been as as someone who is, you know, talked about this publicly? Like it’s we get this I feel like a couple times a year where it’s usually, you know, Jazz related. Right. Of something has been said to a player at a game. I’ve heard plenty of stories from players over the years who have targeted Salt Lake City and Boston as the two places where you just hear some shit that is crazier than what you will hear elsewhere. And I’ve found that the to me the weird response in this from either BYU alumni or students or just supporters and just people in the state of Utah in general has just been like, we’re not the only place with racism. So, like, what’s the discourse at this point of of this incident?


Eric Walden Yeah, that’s a it’s a great excuse, by the way.


Zach Harper It’s I mean, any time you can just be like, yeah, but everywhere it’s a it’s what you want to hear.


Eric Walden That’s not the best deflection. You could probably come up, right? Yeah. You know, I mean, Utah has a reputation, right. And not an undeserved one for people who’ve never been to Utah. You know, it’s like got Salt Lake City is the major population hub to the north. You’ve got Ogden where Weber State University is located to the south, you’ve got Utah County proposed where BYU is located. Orem is where Utah Valley University is located. These are the major population centers in Utah and then like way down south and say you’ve got St George, Cedar City and in between got a whole lot of farmland, got a whole lot of ranchers, got a whole lot of mining towns, places that, you know, are not industrialized, commercialized, modernized. If you want to say it like maybe it’s harsh but very like kind of traditional conservative background people, right? And so it goes without saying, Utah is not the most diverse in terms of demographics. We have had a growing Hispanic population over the last couple of decades. There’s a fair number of Pacific Islanders here as a result of, you know, missionary work from the LDS Church, but to state with a ton of white people who’ve grown up in the Mormon Church and who frankly live in something of a bubble. Right. Who don’t have a lot of interaction, people of color, who don’t understand why they might be uncomfortable in the state and not even like the overt acts of racism. Right. Like this Duke volleyball player is just straight up alleging the N-word was shouted at her during a volleyball match at BYU. Right. So it’s police report. Police officer didn’t hear anything. All these BYU fans, you know, because they haven’t found the perpetrator. There was guy banned. But it turns out like they’ve been able to kind of evaluate footage and see that it wasn’t this guy who was yelling those things at the times they allegedly happened. And so the problem is, you know, as a result of that bubble, Utahns have have this tendency to be very insular and very kind of they’re worried about their national perception, right? Because of all of these stories, because of these years and decades of stories. And so their reaction in situations like this, unfortunately, tends to default to, well, that didn’t happen. That stuff doesn’t happen here. That’s that’s just people, you know, saying bad stuff about BYU. Again, that’s people saying bad stuff about Mormons. That’s people jumping to conclusions. There’s no proof that this happened. And, you know, okay, there is not a video out there right now of someone yelling an N-word at this player. Right. We can we can agree on that. But the fact that so many people’s reaction, default reaction was to accuse her of being a liar, was to accuse her godmother who tweeted about this of being a liar, to go on her godmother’s, you know, social media timeline and dig up anything questionable she said in the past and use that as well. There’s proof that she’s just not trustworthy rather than, you know, defaulting to there’s a possibility that this happened. And it’s a horrible thing, right? Like Utah Jazz games have been kind of you know, they’ve been in the national news the last few years because there have been several incidents in which fans had racial interactions with Russell Westbrook.


Jamel Johnson Mm hmm.


Eric Walden And they’re not yelling the N-word at him, but they’re also saying things that they apparently don’t realize might be offensive to a black person because they don’t have any interactions with black people. Right. And, you know, one of the guys who did this who wound up getting banned from a Jazz game for yelling something at Russell Westbrook a few years ago, did an interview with a local TV station right afterwards in which he basically like, well, you had you know, I didn’t think I said anything bad. And they’re coming. After he filed a lawsuit against the Jazz and against Russell Westbrook.


Zach Harper He did. He sued for a lot of money? Yeah.


Eric Walden Right. This is this is my ordeal and I don’t want to make Utah sound like it’s totally backwards place, right. Because population here has been growing. Salt Lake City is actually like one of the most supportive places to the LGBTQ community in the western United States. Right. Salt Lake City has a bigger pride parade than San Francisco does. Right. So I don’t want to give people the impression that it’s like this total hate bill. Right. There’s a growing legion of of liberal people living in Salt Lake City. The problem is it’s a lot of the rest of the state. And as a result of people’s membership in the Mormon Church, which, you know, didn’t allow black people to hold the priesthood until 1978, which, you know, still teaches that on the BYU campus, they have an honor code where you can’t publicly, you know, have a sexual relationship with black.


Jamel Johnson Black people with you? Oh, no, I’m sorry, my fault.


Eric Walden There are these things going on and there are generations of people growing up in this environment. Right. And it keeps going and it keeps perpetuating. And we’re getting more people who are, you know, trying to be voices of reason. We’re trying to say, hey, you know, we can’t continue to operate this way. But for now, you know, people at BYU, people in the Mormon community, which, you know, if you look at the history of the Mormon Church. Had to go from state to state to state because it’s interesting, like the historical version of why they had to do that versus like the Utah version of why they had to do that. Everywhere they went, you know, they were just met by these unreasonable mobs of people who chased them out. You know, they kind of tend to leave out the why of why mobs of people were unreasonable towards them. And so you wind up with an environment like this where a situation like this happens. And instead of taking a moment to say, maybe this actually did happen, and what can we do to make it better? We just too often have the initial response to go, fired. They’re making that up. She’s trying to get attention. I don’t know what their motivation is, but, you know, that didn’t happen.


Zach Harper Eric Walden, Utah Jazz reporter for the Salt Lake City Tribune. Eric, thank you for joining Takeline.


Eric Walden Yeah, thanks for having me on, guys.


Jamel Johnson <A.D.>


Jamel Johnson All right, Dan, we’re just going to come in. You know, as hot as possible. You are a football expert.


Dan Hartigan Yeah, sure. Eagles country. Let’s fly. Let’s fly.


Jamel Johnson All right, here we go. J.C. Shazier is playing.


Dan Hartigan Mm hmm.


Jamel Johnson And is everybody’s getting in the mood. It’s the Sailing N’Sync remix you singing lead. Are you ready for some football? Not that watered down pre season backwash with only 20 minutes of starters. I’m talking real regular season of football. I’m going to have a heart attack The season starts this Thursday. The Rams won the title last year. Kenny Stills is doing ketamine. Hmm. Here to elaborate further. The host of a lovely podcast called Sorry We Love Football. Dan Hartigan, welcome to Takeline, Dan.


Dan Hartigan Thanks for having me. Eagles Country Let’s fly. Eagles Country Let’s fly.


Jamel Johnson You want to give a warning just to be safe?


Dan Hartigan Eagles Country Let’s fly.


Zach Harper Some with a little fear. Let’s do some what you said just a little. You’re going to get scared.


Jamel Johnson Yeah.


Dan Hartigan Eagles country. Let’s fly.


Zach Harper Oh, that’s good.


Jamel Johnson Yeah. Yeah. It sounds like you’re about to pee your pants.


Zach Harper Up a little bit. Yeah.


Jamel Johnson My favorite thing about this interview is I get to ask Dan questions about football and he can’t lie to me. You have to tell me the truth because you’re an expert.


Dan Hartigan Okay. No lies. Let’s go.


Jamel Johnson Do you have any big takeaways from this pre-season? We know the games aren’t real, but was there anything that you saw in the preseason that felt like, oh, this is this is the tale of the regular season?


Dan Hartigan You know, I want to zoom out a little bit and and look at the league from kind of a from a wide eyed view. Roger Goodell more like Roger. Good guy. Oh, this guy has had a huge off season. I think he’s going to have an enormous season. He’s in a contract year.


Dan Hartigan The owners next season have to vote if he’s going to remain as commissioner. This man signed off on the 11 game suspension of Deshawn Watson. He extended that suspension. It was initially six games. He suspended Dolphins owner Stephen Ross until mid-October. The guy can’t even go to the team he owns’ facilities.


Jamel Johnson How do you suspend the owner?


Dan Hartigan I don’t know. But he did it. And he’s also come in for your owner, Jamel. Washington Commanders owner Daniel Snyder.


Jamel Johnson Please come quick. Get him now.


Dan Hartigan Holding the feet to the fire. We saw the Las Vegas Raiders implode last year. Jon Gruden, his ass is out of town. Roger Goodell means business right now. And I just want people to be on notice about this. Pay attention to Goodell this season. He also rigged the schedule. So we have a ton of revenge games. We have Russell Wilson Monday night going to Seattle. There’s a ton of that this season. I’m all in on Roger Goodell.


Zach Harper Dan, I guess I understand being a pro Goodell podcast. It’s you know, it’s a different it’s a different take than what we’re used to. So I you know, there’s a there’s a certain amount of pioneering here that I I’m down for. I don’t know if one of those things is we put the Seahawks on Monday Night Football. I don’t know if that’s going to do it because I don’t take a lot of way for pre season unless someone gets hurt or you know I saw Trey Lance throw a bomb to a receiver who I can’t remember at this point. So I’ve just decided as a 49 year old, I’m like, yep, that’s good enough for me. He’s he’s, you know, he’s the next Joe Montana. But in terms of the Seahawks, I don’t think anybody wants to watch them play football this year. Right.


Dan Hartigan I think their shelf life is one week, literally.


Zach Harper One week, which is.


Dan Hartigan Which is what we’re going to get. I will watch them one time this season. It’ll be this Monday.


Jamel Johnson How is Geno Smith still on the team? The bigger question, why is the coach still there? What’s your point? Monarch’s big, short pants.


Dan Hartigan Pete Carroll?


Zach Harper Pete Carroll


Jamel Johnson Why is Pete Carroll still there? Why won’t he go home and go to bed?


Dan Hartigan He has a boy like energy. Every time you see some coverage of the Seahawks, he’s, you know, slinging the football around or he’s trying to be a part of a drill. I don’t know if the players can’t stand him or if he’s just kind of a joke that unites everybody. He has pedigree. He’s won in college, he’s won in the professional leagues. So I don’t know how much longer he can he can kind of just ride off that, though. So this is a make or break season for Pete Carroll as well.


Jamel Johnson I mean, you got a ring. You blew the second one. Just go home.


Zach Harper Yeah. Yeah. Did you think chewing gum, you know, you get a gum sponsorship or something like he loves to chew gum. Like just go chew gum at home like it’s.


Jamel Johnson Let’s keep it in the NFC West. Mm hmm. Zack, you mentioned you’re a Niners fan. You said Trey Lance out loud. Yeah. Yeah. Kind of the biggest story that no one’s talking about is Jimmy G not leaving. They’re going they’re going quarterback by committee. Trey Lance is the starter. Jimmy still on the team. What do you think of the Niners outlook this year, Dan?


Dan Hartigan You know, just to bring it to a pop culture level as as we’re supposed to do here, if you’re following that, Don’t Worry, Darling, festival drama that’s happening. I see some comparisons. We see Chris Pine may or may not have been spit on by Harry Styles. This is a preview into the Niners quarterback room all season long. These guys can’t stand each other. They’re going to have to pretend like they love each other. They have plenty more festivals or games to play together. And I don’t know who Olivia Wilde is in this scenario. But I mean, I’ll let you guys come to that. What I’m saying is.


Jamel Johnson Trent WILLIAMS.


Zach Harper Yeah.


Dan Hartigan Sure. Trent Williams


Zach Harper Hopefully not Bosa, that piece of shit. I’ll just. Yeah.


Dan Hartigan The Niners have a history of doing this. They’ve done the Steve Young and Joe Montana thing before. I know these players are not that same caliber, but I do love that some teams are just cursed to repeat the past. And that is what I’m seeing right now. You’re seeing two quarterbacks who can both play. Yeah, Jimmy G gets unnecessary hate. We don’t know what Trey Lance is yet, but it’s going to be exciting. And how do you feel as a fan?


Zach Harper I will. I bristled at the unnecessary hate thing, he thought, and he says he’s not like he’s just not good. He’s he’s not bad. Actually. I shouldn’t say sucks. He’s just not good. He’s not a good football player. And you’re right. Like, this is history repeating itself. Like they did it with Alex Smith and Colin Kaepernick at one point. Like for some reason they just like to think we got we have one full quarterback between these two guys. We’ll just wait for one of I don’t know if they’re going to do like the Joker thing where like they break a pull cube like you guys decide who’s the starting quarterback. I don’t know if that’s going to be it, but I wonder, you know, outside looking in like I will eat up any Trey Lance propaganda I can find. I don’t I don’t care how irrational is like I want him to be good I had when they made the trade for the number three pick, I had no idea who he was. I started watching North Dakota highlights and this dude was putting on a mixtape, but in like the three games he played, like I was all in on it. And yet Jimmy is still around and I don’t know why. Like, does he have photos of Shanahan that he that Shanahan doesn’t want out there is Trey Lance just not good.


Jamel Johnson For sure he does.


Zach Harper Like there’s there’s something going on there where I look at that and I shouldn’t be. Yeah I know they just won but I shouldn’t be jealous of like Matt Stafford being the quarterback of like the division rival at this point. Right. That’s that’s not a life anyone should live.


Jamel Johnson He definitely has photo. Every coach has photos. They don’t want out.


Zach Harper By the way, that bum Matt Stafford threw a pick, that Tart dropped. That should have been the while the four guys probably were going to win that game, but they should have won that game. I don’t want to of this Matt Stafford redemption bullshit Dan like we got to he’s a fraud, right? Like we can call him a fraud.


Dan Hartigan I like calling him a fraud I never bought in last season. I was at the game you’re talking about. I couldn’t believe that Tartt dropped the pass or. Yeah, drop the interception. Changed everything. They would have won the game. Perhaps the Super Bowl. Oh, yeah. Niners fans, it’s a curse existence. I mean, you and Jamel I think have similar.


Zach Harper It was cool when I was a kid. Yeah, we’re so good when I was a kid, so it’s not.


Jamel Johnson Similar.


Zach Harper I’m like.


Jamel Johnson Now being.


It’s not similar?


Zach Harper Way cooler forty niners has never been something we would say the.


Jamel Johnson Gold. We can’t mention the gold rush. Plus, they could play. They have playoff wins in every decade. I don’t think we have a playoff win in the 2010s.


Zach Harper Yeah, that’s true. Yeah. Yeah. I should’ve kept football more sustainable.


Dan Hartigan So, so much better.


Zach Harper Yeah, so, so great.


Jamel Johnson R.I.P. Chief Z. Our mascot was just an old black dude with a headdress on in, like, a leather jacket. He was pretty sick. I will not be mentioning the Commanders further. Let’s take it across the way to the AFC West, the biggest reported quarterback move of the summer, Russell Wilson to the Broncos. Peyton Manning got a chip doing the same thing. Quarterbacks, they love that thin air. I’ve already seen footage of Russell Westbrook throwing fake footballs we all love the Broncos country. Let’s ride video him in front of the towers. Iconic media. How are you feeling about the Broncs this year? I mean, that that division is the group of death.


Dan Hartigan Stacked.


Jamel Johnson As some would call it, in real football. Can the Broncos even make the playoffs out of the West?


Dan Hartigan I think absolutely. I love their skill position players. Russell Wilson obviously elevates that team just by being on the roster. I mean, as hilarious as he is as a human being, he’s a pretty clearly a great player and it’s just a perfect situation. I mean, they have a great running game and a 1-2 punch in Melvin Gordon and Javonte Williams. The receivers are great. I like Jerry Judy. We don’t even know what he is yet. He could be just a stud. I mean, last year he had what, Drew Locke throwing the ball?


Jamel Johnson Yeah, he was catching balls from Drew Lock.


Dan Hartigan And I think he got injured as well. And then we have what, Courtland Sutton? They they have a really good team on paper. Their defense has always been great. They have an awesome home field advantage when a team’s good.


Jamel Johnson Here’s the real question. How did Russ convince Ciara to move to Denver?


Zach Harper Good question.


Dan Hartigan That’s because you could start a mega-church there. You could. They’re going to start their own megachurch. If you’ve watched Real Housewives, Salt Lake City, I know that’s dealing with maybe a different religion than they.


Jamel Johnson Did.


Dan Hartigan Practice.


Jamel Johnson Earlier, about 30 minutes ago.


Dan Hartigan For sure. Yeah. There’s a lot of opportunity out there. It’s God’s country.


Zach Harper Can’t you just say that about any place that has a mountain, though? You just call it God’s country like you can for God’s country, right? Like you can say anything you want when there’s a mountain involved.


Dan Hartigan Yes, you can. And he is going to take advantage of that.


Zach Harper How about this for a transition? What about a mountain of some drama here with the Baltimore Ravens in this Lamar Jackson situation? I don’t like that Lamar Jackson is representing himself in these negotiations. Just go hire an agent. I get like 4% of hundreds of millions of dollars, a lot of money to give up, but 96% of hundreds of millions of dollars is a lot to get. And so maybe he just assumes I’m going to get it no matter what. But I’m a little concerned that this is going to head into like the Dak Prescott Cowboys situation of just like we’re just going to franchise him every single year. We’re going to have this hanging over our heads every single year instead of like getting this done.


Dan Hartigan Yeah. And I think it’s it’s unfair. Because he is clearly established every. He’s checked, every box that you need to be the franchise quarterback. So I’m not sure what sort of game that the front office is playing. I mean, Ozzie Newsome, is he still there? He he may have retired recently, but they’ve had one of the best run franchises for the past 20, 30 years, ever since they came to fruition. And so they know how to do good business. But it’s also why would you want any sort of disgruntled energy coming out of that locker room? I mean, the team loves Lamar Jackson. The city loves Lamar Jackson. What are you waiting for? I don’t like I don’t know what he needs to prove here. We just talked about Russell Wilson. He just signed like a five year extension. He has never played a snap for the Broncos.


Zach Harper Right.


Jamel Johnson Well, you know how it go, man. When you’re a black quarterback, the only way you get treated right in negotiations is if you won a Super Bowl already. They’re looking at Lamar like, oh, well, you haven’t won a Super Bowl. Well, no one has. It’s pretty hard to win it.


Zach Harper Tom Brady like Tom Brady’s got them all like you can how can you win one.


Jamel Johnson Yeah but that’s how they’re going to carry them.


Dan Hartigan Also shout out to Tom Brady for leaving Gisele. He chose football. He chose his teammates. You know, it is football season. So shout out Tom Brady.


Zach Harper We have to question his decision making at this point, right?


Dan Hartigan Like it’s insane.


Zach Harper You know where I want to be? Tampa at 45 years old. Like that’s instead of with Giselle.


Jamel Johnson He’s heavily invested in the zoo down there. That’s what people don’t know. Zoo business. Yeah, yeah, he’s around. Yeah. Because everybody. You think it’s GameStop, you think it’s Robinhood, you think you think you’re getting some penny stocks? No, the zoo. You know what’s timeless? Animals. Well, until global warming and.


Zach Harper Well, yeah, I mean, we’re kind of taking care of that.


Jamel Johnson Yeah. Until the until the whole shit ends up underwater. But until then.


Zach Harper That’s why you got to get to a zoo now, you know.


Jamel Johnson I’m glad you mentioned the Bucs because, like, all right, Brady’s back. Is the NFC South a foregone conclusion? Are the Bucs just going to march out to 13 wins? I think Vegas has they’re over under at 11 wins this year. MM. Seems like a lot for a guy who didn’t play in the preseason at all.


Dan Hartigan I’m out on the Bucs this season. I think this is I mean, I know they survived Antonio Brown a season ago, but this is just too much. It’s too volatile. BRADY Is he going to miss week two, three or four because he has a family issue? I mean, for him to be like, I’m 45, I have a lot going on, it’s just a slap in the face to almost like the entire coaching staff. There are a lot of 45 year olds who work for the team who were available to come to the office. So and look, I’m not questioning Brady’s worth work ethic. Obviously, he’s he’s an insane person just like any all time great. But I don’t know. At some point these things don’t happen gradually when these older players fall off of a cliff like it’s going to happen. Is he going to finish the season? Like what’s going to happen first? Lamar gets a contract extension or Brady retires? Like I would like to see who comes out of that. I think Brady could retire before he gets that extension. Unfortunately for Ravens fans.


Zach Harper Trevor Lawrence had to had to be coached by Urban Meyer which either.


Jamel Johnson Unfortunate.


Zach Harper Yeah it’s it you know that’s a okay thing at the college level you know except for. Oh. Murder thing. But but other than that, like, there there is like, you know, it’s good at the college level. I think we all recognize this was going to be a fraudulent thing at the NFL level, right. Like no one thought was a good idea. And so as he goes into the year two, just being coached by not Urban Meyer. Like, I feel like I’m all in on the Jags. I think they’re going to be good, but just that they’re going to be like more fun. They’re going to be way more competent. They’re going to be a team that probably wins. I don’t know what they’re over under is that I think it’s like six and a half. So I think they can get seven or eight wins like out of nowhere because they’re just Etienne’s back, like just because there’s no Urban Meyer, I feel like that is a massive boost. So is this it’s not going to be a make or break for Trevor Lawrence in year two, but do we like do you think there will be people who are like really surprised by him this year?


Dan Hartigan I’m going to quickly zag and say Urban Meyer did a fantastic job.


Jamel Johnson Oh, my God. Dan.


Dan Hartigan Oh, he made Jacksonville more relevant than they have been. You’re a.


Jamel Johnson Jesus Christ. Dan


Zach Harper Roger Goodell. And I think Urban Meyer did a good job.


Dan Hartigan Insiders have told me that their parting was mutual and it was a part of a bigger plan.


Zach Harper Oh.


Dan Hartigan The ten year plan.


Zach Harper To get a lap dance in Columbus again. Like, what’s the what’s the plan?


Dan Hartigan Everyone wants a lap dance in Columbus.


Jamel Johnson It takes more planning than you think.


Dan Hartigan But to be serious. Yeah, I love Doug Peterson. Obviously, I’m an Eagles fan. There’s a statue of him outside of our stadium looms large. I’m sure Nick Sirianni appreciates seeing that coming to work every day. But Peterson’s great. He wasn’t a professional quarterback himself. I think he and Trevor Lawrence are going to have a great relationship. And like you guys are saying, like now, they just had the worst possible season. Yeah, it’s all house money at this point. It’s just it’s a fresh start. There’s the expectations of year one from Lawrence are gone. He’s shaken off like, you know, it’s tough to be a rookie in the NFL. So, yeah, I’m with you. I actually think they could compete for like a wildcard.


Jamel Johnson The AFC South, as you know, Dan is my favorite division. And yes, it is football because it’s just it’s Arkham Asylum. Anything goes. It’s just madness.


Zach Harper It really is.


Jamel Johnson And they got and we got Matt Ryan coming to Indianapolis. Yeah. Ryan Tannehill on his way out in Tennessee.


Dan Hartigan We’ll see Mike Wallace. Mike Wallace is going to start. What would you say?


Jamel Johnson I’m going to say week five, five games. Wow. In five weeks.


Dan Hartigan I can’t wait to see Malik Willis to Josh Gordon Touchdown highlights that is going to just make my life. Jamel don’t you have a relationship with Coach Vrabel?


Jamel Johnson Yeah, yeah, yeah. He hits me up every now and again. I got we are. We met at we met at a fighting game tournament. We went to CEO 2022. I seen him out there. He was playing King of Fighters.


Zach Harper I don’t want to say anything that would get anybody into any trouble here, but that literally something like that doesn’t sound like a real story. That sounds like a map, like an alibi for either. Maybe both of you, I don’t know. But that just like that didn’t. That didn’t sound like it wouldn’t be said in court.


Jamel Johnson Let’s change the subject. Fantasy football. Dan, you’re a big fantasy guy. I know we got a lot of listeners joining a lot of leagues against their will. It’s about that time to give you a code word.


Zach Harper I got a draft tonight. I’m completely unprepared for.


Jamel Johnson You got to give your coworkers $100, and you’re just going to do it until you die. And so. Who’s your who’s your big. Who’s your big sleeper this year? Who’s your who’s your number one fantasy pick this year? Why is it still Derrick Henry? Talk fantasy to us. Dan, Mariah Carey.


Dan Hartigan Well he’s not my number one pick, but I do think he’s going to finish number one overall. And that’s Jalen Hurts.


Zach Harper Wow.


Dan Hartigan He’s right here.


Jamel Johnson Wow.


Dan Hartigan He was he was kind of a sleeper last season. He’s not under the radar anymore, but they have given him everything he needs to succeed. And he’s going to unless he’s injured, that he’s going to produce, his numbers are just going to get better from last year. I think he finished in the top five of all quarterbacks last year and obviously quarterback is the highest scoring position, so he has a chance to genuinely finish number one in fantasy I’d jump on that Hurts train.


Zach Harper All right, let’s just go division by division you just tell me who’s going to win the division and just a quick answer way. So let’s go to the AFC East.


Dan Hartigan Same time this.


Jamel Johnson Uses expert.


Dan Hartigan Dolphins.


Zach Harper Whoa, whoa.


Dan Hartigan I’m apart of Tua-non. I’m a believer and it’s fins up all season long.


Zach Harper Tua-non is so aggressive on line you can’t say shit.


Dan Hartigan On it’s not.


Zach Harper On you. They’re on you.


Jamel Johnson Okay either I’m picking the Bills. Fuck that


Zach Harper Yeah, right. And that’s the reason I just fuck that match. Yeah.


Dan Hartigan They have the best team, but, you know, that’s. Things could happen.


Zach Harper It’s true. Yeah, that’s true. All right, let’s go. AFC North.


Dan Hartigan I like the Ravens. I think this is a Lamar Jackson balling the fuck out all season types. Yeah. I really do.


Jamel Johnson Ahh, the Steelers. They just won’t go away. Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know. I just said somethingl foul.


Zach Harper You’re Here for you. Here for. For Kenny. What? Like, what do you.


Jamel Johnson I don’t even know why I said it. Shout out to our guy, Gowie. I’m so sorry I said that honestly, because I’m upset that I’m not from Baltimore and I don’t get to root for the Ravens, so I’m okay. Yeah. Fully out of spite. Shout out to my guy Brady.


Zach Harper Honestly respect that I have a that’s a great answer and a.


Dan Hartigan Quick Steelers note I think week 18 Ben Roethlisberger is going to unretired and lead the Steelers to the playoffs. Their opponent that day the Browns. The most problematic game of football ever play ever played week 18.


Zach Harper Yeah, yeah.


Jamel Johnson I hope to not watch a second of it.


Zach Harper Whenever Ben Roethlisberger ran or like tried to scramble the last three years, it just looked like someone had done stop motion animation with a potato. Like, it just it looked so, so uncomfortable. And fucking AFC South. Who’s won the AFC South and why.


Dan Hartigan Jamel, I’ll let you take this one.


Jamel Johnson Well, it’s the Titans. We are the Titans.


Zach Harper So is this a Vrabel Vrabel solidarity play or is this. Yeah.


Jamel Johnson Absolutely. Me and Mike Vrabel was together all night for sure, that night. The night in question, I was with Coach Mike Vrabel. Tell them Mike. Uh, yeah, me and Jamel were together. He’s a good guy and I almost had a heart attack. He took me to the hospital.


Dan Hartigan I like that. Coach Vrabel sounds like a super fan. Yeah, but he’s in Tennessee. That’s fine.


Jamel Johnson That’s exactly how he sounds, because that was him. I’m picking the Titans. They resigned. Derrick Henry. Which means they have faith that he’s got another year. If he is him still, then they are that type.


Dan Hartigan I am going with the Colts, my favorite southern city, Indianapolis. Matt Ryan is just the latest Band-Aid on the Andrew Luck retirement wound that is still so present and open. But they have a great team. I love their coach. I think they should have made the playoffs last year and they improved in a lot of situations. And Michael Pittman, I think is going to have a breakout season.


Jamel Johnson So and they got a easy ass schedule.


Zach Harper Yeah, I’m not great with geography. But how is Indianapolis in the South and Baltimore’s in the north? Like it just doesn’t.


Dan Hartigan You got to love it.


Jamel Johnson Yeah. Yeah, it’s and based on chicken spots per capita. That’s probably way off when.


Zach Harper All right. AFC West, who’s winning it?


Dan Hartigan This is the tough one. For me it’s the Chiefs. I know the Chargers have the hype train going, but it’s Andy Reid. It’s Patrick Mahomes. That’s all I need to know.


Zach Harper Yeah.


Dan Hartigan It’s like the Bills pick that you guys had, fuck it. I mean, those guys, it’s Andy Reid and Patrick Mahomes. That’s what I want.


Jamel Johnson I’m going with the Raiders. The Raiders.


Zach Harper The Raiders are the only professional sports team that I outright hate, but I just like I hate their fans. I hate whoever puts on that jersey. I hate whoever works in organization. I work for them for a year. The year they went to the Super Bowl against the Bucs and I had to pretend to be a Raiders fan just to get the job. They quit. It was this is like a retail thing, a merchandizing retail thing. And they quizzed me on like the draft. So it was like I didn’t know about like Philip Buchanan and all this crap. Like, that was the job interview. It was awful. I was so happy they lost the Super Bowl, got just annihilated.


Jamel Johnson But listen, I live in northeast Los Angeles.


Zach Harper You have to you know, I got rid of it. Yeah.


Jamel Johnson I have to like the Raiders too comfortably go to the store. And so I’m rockin. And they got the Devonte Adams.


Zach Harper I used to like them. I hope I hope he’s horrible now, I just.


Jamel Johnson I guess David Carr’s back is okay.


Zach Harper All right. What about the NFC West?


Dan Hartigan I’m going with your Niners.


Zach Harper Okay, up again. I’ll take any propaganda.


Dan Hartigan Yeah, I think Shanahan just is the truth. And they’re just going to be that that run, that unstoppable running team that they were when they made the Super Bowl. And then Trey Lance just is capable of making more plays than Jimmy Garoppolo. So I know there’s gonna be a learning curve, but if they can run the ball the way that I think we know they can, they’ll be plays there for Trey Lance to make. And it’s going to be really fun to watch.


Zach Harper Jamel, you’re not allowed to say the Niners if you’re going to say the Raiders. So I can go?


Jamel Johnson No, because I’m going to say the Cardinals.


Zach Harper Whoa, the hard knocks bump.


Jamel Johnson I’m going to say the Cardinals. Yep, that’s right. Kyler Murray, he’s going to learn how to read plays and everything’s going to be quite all right. He’s going to get a haircut eventually and he’s going to be is you know, I mean, they’re showing him they’re trying to teach him three Madden right now and it’s all right.


Zach Harper Yeah. Cardinals I love that his punishment was you have to call plays this quarter in the preseason. What a great punishment. All right what about the NFC South?


Dan Hartigan Who I should say I’m out on the Bucs. So it makes it a tough one. I have a rooting interest in the Saints to be terrible because we hold their number one pick next season. We. So that leaves me with my curveball, which is the Marcus Mariota Falcons. How can they possibly be good? I’m a I’m an Oregon Ducks fan. It was tough weekend, but Marcus Mariota has always had a huge spot in my heart, and I think he’s going to have a fun run. And it’s just we’re going to remember like he should be a starter in the league. And I’m not sure why he sat around for the past couple of seasons as part of.


Zach Harper A fun run, as what everyone calls like a five day after Thanksgiving as well. So like I said, that’s what you want your quarterback to do is a fun run.


Dan Hartigan Oh, yeah.


Zach Harper Jamel, Jamel, what’s what’s your NFC South?


Jamel Johnson Shout out to Cordell Patterson? But I’m taking the Panthers. Wow.


Zach Harper Well, baby, from Mayfield.


Jamel Johnson Here in the Boys. You’re going to turn it up, sir. Yes, sir. Perry and Robby Anderson are going to have a team of touchdown dance and it’s going to take Tik-Tok by storm. Mm. Panthers, baby, when you least expect it.


Zach Harper NFC North, which houses the Detroit Lions with their hard knocks, has made me believe that. Do Staley is the worst coach in professional sports history. No offense to do Staley the player, but do Staley the coach? Yeah. Literally yelled at a running back for scoring a touchdown because he broke off the play that he’s supposed to run. And I just don’t think that that’s Lions football that’s going to win. But what is your pick for the NFC North?


Dan Hartigan Yeah, the Hard Knocks thing is tough because the Lions are the Eagles week one opponent. So all of America is rooting for Detroit now? I think so. At least my wife is, which is just terrible in my household. But I’m picking the Packers. Every season they’ve gone 13 and three.


Zach Harper Right?


Dan Hartigan I don’t see why that changes. I guess they can go 14-3 now, but.


Jamel Johnson Well, because they’re going to go 13-4.


Dan Hartigan 13-4 is fine. That’ll get it done. I know everybody’s gassing up the Vikings. I’m still out on Kirk Cousins. I can’t I can’t do the Kirk Cousins thing, but I enjoy that. I love Justin Jefferson. Have fun.


Jamel Johnson I’m going with the pack, too. You know how I feel Perp Cousins. He can literally eat my shorts. Go pack, though.


Zach Harper All right, last one, the NFC East. Jamel, I’ll have you go first with the NFC East.


Jamel Johnson I pick the Giants every year. I’m doing it again. Giants.


Dan Hartigan You have any reasons other than you just pick them every year?


Jamel Johnson Because I hate myself. That’s why I’m picking the Giants is I don’t. I don’t believe in anything.


Zach Harper Dan?


Dan Hartigan I’m picking Philly. Even though it’s so uncomfortable to be a favorite and to have national pundits think that your team is good, it sucks. You want to be the under the radar team that surprises people. And now we have expectations. People think this team is going to be good. I agree. But you know, we lose the Lions Week one, the sky will be falling.


Zach Harper Is that the perfect cover, though? You lose the Lions Week one now all the expectations are gone and then you can kind of build up slowly through the rest of the year. And I mean, you can go against Pat McCarthy like Mike McCarthy’s not going to coach anybody out there.


Jamel Johnson Yeah, no, he’s just going to watch Austin Powers again.


Dan Hartigan My goodness.


Zach Harper Just got to find more more topical reasons there to connect with this team.


Jamel Johnson I’m picking the Jets. The Jets are going to get traded to the NFC East. Yeah. And they are going to win the division. That’s why I.


Zach Harper Like that idea. I like that idea.


Jamel Johnson Well, Dan, you’ve spoken to us for an amount of time. Where can the people find you?


Dan Hartigan Jamel and I do a show called Sorry, We Love Football. We put it out every week. Find me there. That’s all I have to plug. It’s football season. There’s nothing else going on in my life.


Jamel Johnson You can find him in Saint Louis rolling on Dubs.


Dan Hartigan I’ll be there under the arch. Meet me.


Jamel Johnson Dan Hartigan, folks.


Dan Hartigan Thanks for having me.


Zach Harper That’s it for us. Thanks for hanging out. Jason will be back next week when he’s not hiding his Quinton Grimes jerseys away from the state of Utah. Make sure you follow and subscribe to Takeline on Apple Podcasts or anywhere you get your podcasts. And of course, check out Jason’s pop culture and entertainment podcast. X ray comes out every single Friday. Check it out. He’s out.


Jason Concepcion Takeline is a Crooked Media production. The show is produced by Ryan Wallerson and Zuri Irvin. Our executive producers are myself and Sandy Girard. Engineering, editing and sound design by the great Sarah Dubalaska and the folks at Chapter Four. And our theme music is produced by Brian Vasquez. Mia Kelman is on the Zoom for vibes, and the vibes are fantastic all the time.