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ICYMI: Rubio Joins Wins & Losses with Clay Travis
Washington, D.C. — U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) joined Wins & Losses with Clay Travis to discuss politics and sports. See below for highlights and listen to the full interview here.
On the worst Dolphins losses in memory:
“I think what happens is, like anything else, you build immunity to these things, just like COVID. You build this immunity. So, I want to say it was after the ‘94 season. The Dolphins lost a very close playoff game to the San Diego Chargers, which I thought was probably the last time they’ve had a legitimate chance to have a team that could have made a run.
“If you remember, in ‘93, Marino tore his Achilles tendon. And they have this team, and this team can win some games, and they lose a game on the road to San Diego…. Aaronovitch misses this last-second field goal. If they win that game, I think they win the following week and go to the Super Bowl. I think it was the Steelers who ended up going that year. Nonetheless, I remember that vividly, and that really haunted me.
“The following season they just got rocked by the Bills in the playoffs. And that was the end of Don Schula’s tenure here with the Dolphins, it was his last game. So that was a bad one. That was way back, obviously.
“In the 2000s and the 2010s, they really haven’t had any singular game. They went to the playoffs twice. The last time the Dolphins won a playoff game was in 2000, a 2000 season, maybe 2001. They haven’t won a playoff game since then. It’s been 23 years, and they’ve been in the playoffs twice since then. So I can’t recall a game, and that’s a sad thing to say…. Usually you got a team that can even have a chance. But … right now, when you’re rooting to be … the seventh seed in the road wild card team, it just tells you how tough this franchise has had it for 20 years.
“The Titans, they’ve been in the mix. I know it’s frustrating to see what happened this season, how they came out at the end, but they’re in the mix. They got a thing going there, where they got some players and a core that they’ve built around. The Dolphins, it’s been a while since they’ve mattered, and I hope that changes now.”
On Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa:
“My assessment on Tua is based on 60 minutes of football, 17 weeks a year, right? I don’t get to see him in practice. It’s not what I do every day. But I can tell you there are things he does that I think are unique. I think he has elite accuracy. I think he’s a quick rhythm passer, a great, a very good rhythm passer. I think he’s a guy that can put the ball in the hands of guys who can make yards after catch. And there’s a lot of guys who made their living in the NFL with that….
“He has to be in the right system, surrounded by the right talent with a coach that believes in him, and that’s structured to make it work that way. They spent the fifth pick of the draft on him. So they got to try to make it work with him and see what they can maximize from him.
“One thing I remember about Tua, he was a freshman…. What was he, 18, 19 years old? They put him in at halftime. This kid takes, what I believe, was like a 20-something-yard sack, that was like an overtime against Georgia. It was like a wipeout sack, like the craziest thing you ever saw. And then the next play he comes in, he looks off to safety, I think hit Smith down the left sideline, first touchdown. They won the National Championship. That was ice blood in his veins. I remember thinking, man, this kid’s 19 years old and he’s delivering.
“What’s happened with quarterbacks, and you’re seeing it now, you’re seeing the fruits of it…. These kids are thrown into complex schemes…. They’re nine, 10, 11 years old, these seven-on-seven tournaments. So by the time these guys make it to the NFL, some of them have had 10 to 12 years of elite quarterback training, and they’ve thrown thousands and thousands of passes in seven-on-seven and high school football, where everybody is throwing the ball around.
“I think that’s part of what happened with Tua coming in. This guy had grown up in that sort of system, so maybe that moment wasn’t too big for him. So I remember that day thinking, there’s something unique about this guy. That he’s able to do that, but I think he’s got to be in the right place to make that work.”
On whether Democrats and Republicans on Capitol Hill have sports conversations across the aisle:
“Some people [do] more than others. You’re always pretty busy when you’re up there. But look, the Senate is different than the House, it’s smaller, only 100 people. So everybody knows everybody. And eventually you end up working with everybody there on something.
“The other thing is, any one senator can blow up the whole play, like really slow down everything and slow down your stuff. There’s just this built-in incentive to fight with someone on one issue but not make a permanent enemy out of them, because next week, they may be working with you on something else…. You can’t get anything passed unless somebody from the other side is with you on it, so you’ve got to maintain these relationships.
“I think there are people that are more sport-centric than others, obviously. So for example, on the Cory Booker plate at Stanford. So that’s someone I’ve talked to a few times about the recruiting process. And then there’s college football at large and we’ll talk about that especially.
“The thing about him and those guys, those West Coast games, man, you got to stay up till like 3:00 in the morning [to watch them]. Usually, Stanford and a couple of other guys come across time zones. Oregon will come across some time on the east. But, I mean, if you’re a BYU fan, you have to be up until 3:00 in the morning East Coast Time on a Saturday night to see them play and all that. So I think that’s where you lose some of it.
“And then we have some conversations about name, image, and likeness with a few people…. Obviously, with Tuberville there, sort of everybody gravitates to him. I feel bad all the time because as a U.S. senator, everybody always wants to talk about … college football…. And he’s a very joyful guy and very happy to oblige everybody. But I’m like, a bunch of guys asking about Ukraine or something. But having him there has kind of made him the magnet for both sides to kind of gravitate towards and talk about this stuff.”
On the senator’s upbringing in Las Vegas and Miami:
“I grew up in Vegas, then I moved to Miami. I was born in Miami. When I was seven, we moved to Las Vegas. And then we came back when I was going into ninth grade. So it was kind of that deal…. Both of my parents worked. My mom was a maid at a hotel called the Imperial Palace, and then my dad was a bartender at a place called Sam’s Town….
“Jobs, that is what it came down to. It was cheaper to live [in Miami], and there were a lot of jobs there. We had … three of my mom’s sisters already lived there…. You got there and my dad found a job pretty quickly, my mom as well. It wasn’t hard to find service sector jobs that paid enough and for them to own a home…. That’s kind of what happened.
“I do remember growing up [and] my mom telling people, ‘Oh, I want to move to a place that’s a little bit more family friendly than Miami.’ I look back and I’m saying, ‘So that’s Vegas?’ But from their perspective, she had family there, so she had that support network.
“That’s a big thing that people forget about working class families. It’s not just about moving. You’re very rarely going to pick up and move somewhere that you don’t have your cousins, your sisters, your brothers, your aunts, your uncles. You’re not going to do it, because that’s your support network.
“If you’ve got to go pick up a couch, a refrigerator from a store, it’s your cousin’s pickup [truck] you’re going to use. If you have to go somewhere, you’re going to leave your kids with your relatives. So we always had to be around family because that was our entire support network. Vegas was the only other city in the country where we had family, where they could find a job.
“It was a unique time to grow up [in Las Vegas]. The city was smaller than it is now. Nellis Air Force Base used to fly the planes right over the city. I remember seeing all those Air Force planes constantly flying over us.
“I went to a very racially mixed school. I don’t know what the statistics were, but it was a substantial minority, African-American and Mexican-American, school…. I look back fondly at my memories of Las Vegas.”
On the double standard of masking kids but not Hollywood:
“This whole generation of people, kids in particular, that have come of age, they don’t have any memory of not having to wear a mask all the time…. What’s happened in American life today, is the stuff that you used to read in The Onion or The Babylon Bee …, what was [once] satire and ironic, and things you make fun of, there’s stuff like that actually happening in the real world.
“You tune into the Super Bowl …, and it’s like 75,000 to 80,000 people in the stadium, and no one’s wearing a mask. The more famous you are, the less masks you wear. Then …, on Monday morning, a bunch of kids in that city and across the country are going to have to go to school and wear a mask….”
On the State of the Union COVID-19 protocols when first announced:
“I don’t know if you saw these rules they came up with this time for the State of the Union…. [You must have] a negative COVID test 24 hours before, you’ve got to wear a mask, and you’ve got to socially distance. They’re going to put members in the gallery and members on the floor. It’s all theater. It’s all complete theater.
“I can tell you now for a fact — and I’m not going to call them out — in the Senate, Democrats, when the cameras are on all of them, most of them are wearing a mask. But there are plenty of instances in which there are no cameras around, where those masks are nowhere to be found, they don’t have them on. It’s just theater at this point.
“It’s like these are the rituals that you have to perform in this theater in order to prove you’re on the right side of it.… There’s nothing more about it…. I wish the State of the Union was at SoFi Stadium in California so we wouldn’t have to wear that stuff.”
On the Super Bowl halftime show:
“With a hologram, I don’t know if you can pull that off in daylight, that’s the problem. But if they had done the hologram, they might not have been able to play the second half, or they might have had to delay it like 45 minutes because it would have just taken everybody out. I also think mentally, it would have just shook everybody up…. I [also] think it’s harder to edit the hologram, or whatever film there is they have of it. It’s hard to … censor … Tupac.
“I don’t think those guys are upstanding models for everybody. I don’t think they claim to be that. I don’t think Snoop Dogg goes around saying, I want people to be like me, and I think people should live like me. I do think that these guys were pioneers in a genre that gave birth to sort of what we have today….
“I have kids like 20, 21, 19, whatever, and they’re sitting there laughing at us like, oh, all these old guys in there. They don’t know much about it. And I’m thinking back to the year that Paul McCartney did the halftime show in the Jacksonville Super Bowl, and I was there thinking, like, why Paul McCartney, who is this guy…? And all these people were around me going crazy about Paul McCartney performing. Now I’ve become those people….
“I thought [the halftime show content] was a logical choice simply because of the Los Angeles connection, the death row connection to the entire West Coast [world] of rap. I’m not saying these are people that I think we should be nominating [for] the Presidential Medal of Freedom or something…. I am saying that music is reflective of things that are happening in this country, particularly during that period of time. And you see, it’s reflected in their lyrics.
“[Ice Cube] made a career out of this, not just the music anymore. I don’t know if you ever got to watch his commentary with Kevin Hart during the Super Bowl. There would be the side commentary thing. During the Olympics [as well]. Ice Cube has created a career as an actor. He’s got a legitimate acting career that he’s built on everything he’s done.
“Yes, I think we’ve lost the capacity to say, I like something, and I don’t get caught up in all the other things that are around [the music]…. I can separate those two things.
On the loss of a culture of free speech in the United States:
“The thing we’ve lost in this country is the understanding that your free speech has a price, and the price of it is [allowing] other people’s free speech. And that’s what’s happened now. So I think what it’s done is, it has a bunch of people sort of feeling boxed in…. Most people are terrified, depending on what your profession is, on a daily basis … that you are one sentence, one old comment made a long time ago in a different context, away from ruining your life.
“I know a lot of parents that live terrified. Some 15-year-old has multiple social media accounts, you shut them down. They open up a new one, and you’re just terrified that one day somewhere they’ll link, like, say something about a 15-year-old might say. And that’s it. At 14 or 15 years of age, some colleges are going to say, I won’t admit you, and they’re going to get ruined and things of this nature….
“I think of all the things in the world that people should not be offended by, [the one that they should be offended by least] is a podcast. Because a podcast is not like a radio broadcast. And even that shouldn’t terrify people. You just change the station or whatever. With the podcast, you have to take active steps to find it, turn it on, and listen to it, right? So if there’s a podcast that offends you, it’s very easy to avoid it.
“Luther Campbell is actually a high school football coach in South Florida, and I’ve interacted with him quite a bit over time. I’ve actually joked with him about it. Because I don’t know, it was about a month ago, we had a group of people here, and I don’t know what I was asking something about. I forgot what it was, but the Alexa was on and it heard us. The lyrics came on, and I’m sprinting to the Alexa to unplug it from the power. The lyrics started playing, and I joked to them about it.
“And you talk about [Luke Campbell’s] case. His case was a sheriff in Broward that didn’t want him to perform, and he took it all the way to the Supreme Court and won and on that front.
“I think there is a huge amount of building resentment towards all this cancel culture and things of this nature. How it manifests itself over the next few years, I don’t know. But I think people are starting to see that they’re running out of people to cancel and things to get outraged by. I think there’s going to be a real snapback against it.”
On how we should address cancel culture:
“I don’t think there’s a political answer to it. Much of what we’re seeing in this country is a cultural problem and social problem…. And I always tell people that politics reflect our culture. It’s not the other way around, and that’s the first point we have to understand. There’s not some law you’re going to pass that fixes this.
“I think it has to be the growing awareness of people that this is just too much already. I’m done with it. I’m tired of it. I don’t want to hear about it. Don’t ask me to be outraged by so and so. I think it has to start with people just sort of refusing to play along with this stuff, just refusing to play along with it. The return of common sense…. We have to stop judging 12, 13 and 14-year-olds [as] if they’re 40-year-olds.
“And also, I think a little bit of the acceptance I always tell people, is you have to let your kids make mistakes and fail now. Am I going to let them run a car over the side of a cliff or something? No, you’re not going to let them [make] terrible mistakes that are life-altering. [But] you can’t build a resiliency if you don’t interact with challenges, adversity, and mistakes…. Part of growing up is making mistakes, and I’m not encouraging mistakes, but those are teaching lessons and things you have to go through in order to become an adult.
“What happens is, if you don’t let kids make mistakes…, if you don’t let them lose, if you don’t let them fail, if you don’t let them have adversity, then what you end up with is a 21, 22, 23-year-old person that’s incredibly fragile…. They’re not resilient. They can’t deal with [adversity]. And then they turn around and want people to come in and take care of it for them, right?
“So, I really don’t like what this person is saying. [People shouldn’t say,] please silence them for me. [What they should say is,] this person’s an idiot, that’s his opinion, I don’t care, it doesn’t impact my life. And you move on…. But we spend so much time sheltering people from the uncomfortable that when they have to finally interact with it as an adult, they haven’t built the capacity to do it. And so they’re demanding the authorities step in and just silence it and crush it.”
On what the senator learned from playing football:
“I honestly believe that kids have to be good at something or work to be good at something at a very young age. And it’s not just at school, all these lessons, all these virtues that people want to teach, you’ve got to apply them or you’re not developing them. And sports, to me, is a great teacher of that. It doesn’t have to be sports, it could be, I imagine, any other thing, but it has to be something that teaches you [some] of the most important things in life.
“Number one is, you have to show up on time. It’s not hard to get up in the morning and go somewhere and be there on time. If you figured that part out, that’s 50 percent of life right there.
“Number two is, I want to achieve something, I want to get from here to there, that’s my goal. Because there’s a difference between people. There are people who have ambitions and then there are people that have a drive to fulfill that ambition. You can have ambition, but if you don’t have the drive, it’s not going to happen. So you have a goal in mind, whatever that goal might be, and [you] have a price. Just like going to the store, you have to pay a price to get something. If you want to get that, it has a price and you have to pay that price to even have a chance to get it right.
“[Athletics is] a great place to learn [this mentality]. I want to be the best football player I can be here, and I want to be the best of whatever I can be. Now I have to apply myself and do the things I have to do and give up some things in order to achieve that. And learning that model early is what you’re going to use for the rest of your life….
“I was not a successful athlete. I was not someone that was going to ever play at another level and anything of that nature. But I learned that if I wanted to achieve something…, there are things I couldn’t do, and there are things I had to give up, and there are things I had to do that I may not have wanted to do, in order to be a part of it and to achieve it…. Learning that when I was [young] is what I … took away from sports, and it helped me every step of the way.
“That’s why for me, … when I lose, whether it’s running for president or [a] bill I couldn’t get passed or some disappointment in life, the way I view it is, all right, I got to go back on Monday and study the bill and see what went wrong and improve from it and get better and apply it the next time I face a situation like this. I think that’s the lesson I’ve taken from sports and that I hope my kids will take away from sports.”
On what the senator learned from running for president in 2016:
“I learned a lot about America…. I’m an enormous believer in the American Dream. And so for me, it was shocking to go out and talk to people that weren’t nearly as optimistic. Not because they didn’t love the country, but because their dad and their grandfather had both worked at some factory somewhere, but that factory left, and now there’s no jobs in [their] community, and everyone’s telling [them] to go to college and become a software engineer, and that’s not what they want to do. So there’s no job for them. So there’s real anger about why that’s happening.
“[I also learned] about the fact that oftentimes in life, things, they’re just like in sports. One or two things, outside of your control in some cases, determine the outcome, and that’s just the way it is…. It was a lot of fun. It wasn’t fun not to win, but I enjoyed every second of it, other than obviously the outcome. But I learned a lot from that process.
“I think I’m a better senator because I ran for president, because I was exposed to issues, ideas, and parts of the country … that I really could never have known about, had I not been there visiting … with people.
“It’s a lot of work. Like I said, it’s a unique process. I think I actually ran in a very unique electoral environment with Trump running, and it was kind of this pivot moment in American political history. But I don’t regret it for one second. It was a lot of hard work, but it made me better all the way around.”
On the impact of name, image, and likeness (NIL) deals on college football:
“Well, I think a couple of things that are inevitable. The first is, I think that genie cannot be put back in the bottle…. And at the end of the day, you can’t have an industry that’s generating billions of dollars, tens of millions of dollars for an organization, [without] the people around it [demanding], hey, at some point, I want a piece of it. We are a capitalist, free enterprise society, so there comes a point where that’s just a fact and you can’t put that genie back.
“I think it’s going to fundamentally alter football. I think there are some athletes that are going to garner that type of attention. The overwhelming majority of athletes playing at that level are not going to qualify for that. They’ll maybe get $2000 or $1000 a month, and they’ll do it, but really not that level. And I think they’re fine with it. Everybody understands they’re at a different point.
“Here’s what I think [will ultimately happen], and I think it [will happen] maybe before the end of this decade. I think the big five major conferences are going to finally wake up and realize, we don’t need the NCAA. What do we need the NCAA for? We have our own TV contracts. The only thing in the NCAA is for us is a pain. All they do is come up with rules and … try to govern us and so forth. And I think they’re going to break away, and I think they’re going to create their own league, separate from the NCAA…. And I think once that happens, what you’re going to be left with is that … the big five conferences … are just going to be normal regular college football. And I think that’s where we’re headed, and I think that’s what the conferences are positioning and posturing towards.
“And I think at that point that NIL deal, the one thing I would do immediately is, I would allow the schools to be involved in this process, because right now … schools in many states can’t be involved at all. And so you’ve got these athletes in the hands of these street agents or even agents…. But [all] these schools have community outreach program offices. These are the offices that help these kids do community service, do the turkey giveaway, whatever it is they’re doing in the community, and they should be allowed all to work with these kids to identify NIL deals and to be involved in which ones are good, which ones are not and so forth.
“But that’s my view of it. I don’t know how you put this genie back in the bottle at this point. The one more point I would make is, if you have a million dollars or, let’s say, half a million dollars in name, image and likeness deals, I can see where school says to them, look, you don’t need the scholarship. Let me use the scholarship on a kid that doesn’t have those deals. And use your NIL scholarship to pay for part of your tuition. You still have another half a million dollars of pocket change. And that way I can use that scholarship on a kid that may not have those deals to bring them into the program.
“So you’re going to have a lot of what would traditionally be known as walk-ons, but with one million dollars in name, image and likeness deals, they don’t need the scholarship. And that scholarship can then go to someone that they’re trying to recruit or bring in. And I think that’s kind of where we’re headed now. I think you’ll see that here in the next four to five years.”
On the moment an athlete realizes he or she will not become a professional:
“I’m involved a lot, like I have been for a long time, with a lot of young people recently graduated from high school, some already in college, some playing with my son and others a little bit younger than him. And the one thing I tell him about sports is…, this is a kid’s game, and there comes a point for everyone that’s playing [when] someone comes to you and says you can’t play anymore. For some people like Tom Brady, that happens later. They get to decide when that moment is. For other people, it happens at 16, 17, 18, 19….
“So you’ve got to be prepared for that moment, what you do next. Now that moment for me, came [when] I went to play football at a small school in Missouri called Parochial College. It isn’t even open anymore. And I’m sitting there, and it’s cold, and there’s [fewer] people in the stands at our games than there [were] at our high school games. And frankly, I think my high school team, which was a pretty good high school team, especially my junior year, might have even been able to beat this college team.
“And I’m sort of thinking to myself, I’m here, halfway across the country, going to graduate or get a bunch of credits that may not even transfer when the time comes to leave this place, if it goes under. I’m 5’9’’, 170 pounds, I run a 4.7, maybe 4.65 on a good day in the ‘40s. There’s just not a lot of people with those measurables playing in the National Football League and much less at any program much larger than this one. And it’s time you get to the fork in the road and you’ve got to make a decision.
“So for me, it was kind of a gradual realization of, look, this just ain’t going to happen…. Life is real now…. I was there in Missouri, probably in December or January, my first year in college, and I sort of realized…, I need to get back to Florida and go to school and get a degree, because the numbers just don’t lie. If you’re 5’9, 170, you better be running a 4.3 or 4.29. I think I forgot one of my coaches told me…, the smaller you are, the faster you better be. There has to be something just to have a chance to play at a bigger college, not to mention at the higher level. So look, that moment came then and it’ll come for everybody at some point, and some of it is by choice and some of it is imposed on you by reality.
“And that’s fine. That’s OK…. What I always told my son and our kids is, if playing football teaches you all these lessons and allows you to get into a school that you might not have been able to get to on your grades alone, and for free, we just won the lottery. You get to play a game, and that game has allowed you to learn these lessons and go to a school you can’t otherwise get into, perhaps, and they’re going to pay for it. What more can you ask for at that point?
“And obviously that’s not true for everybody. Some kids, I do think, have the ability. But [it’s] not just on them. For a lot of these people, [it] is, are you drafted by the right team [under] the right circumstances? And do you not start suffering injuries? And what position are you playing? Because I think, if you’re a quarterback, that has some attributes, they’re going to give you a little longer to develop. If you’re a running back depth, that disposable, man. Running backs, these guys, they’ve become disposable. They’re going through them. They’re not even drafting them high anymore. So it depends on that, too. There’s just a lot of factors you don’t control that determine how far and how long you can play.”
On what the senator would do if he had not entered politics:
“I would have loved to have been in the front office, because I love the process of sort of identifying talent and putting the right [talents] next to each other. It’s not just about building people, not even putting them on all star teams, but putting together the right mix of players who complement one another and allow you to win games as a team. I love all of that…. I don’t know if I’d be any good at it, but that’s certainly something I think I would have wanted to have been a part of, if I wasn’t doing this. I guess I’ll just focus on Ukraine and stuff like that at this point.”
On Vladimir Putin’s goals in invading Ukraine:
“His goal is to take back parts, probably not all Ukraine, but parts of it. And the reason is simple…. This guy’s a Russian, he’s not an American. He wasn’t raised in the U.S. His view of life in general and the Russian view of things in general is very different [from] the American viewpoint. As a country that’s been invaded multiple times throughout its history, that just impacts the culture….
“[Putin’s view is that] Russia [deserves to] be a powerful country, to be one of the world’s most powerful countries. And powerful countries have a right to have a sphere of influence, to basically have some area of the world where they dominate, not necessarily govern … directly, but at least have leaders in societies that are loyal to them. And he believes there should be a sphere of influence for Eastern Europe that responds to Russia. China would argue that they want that i