Whitley's Believe It Or Not

David Whitley
Gator Sports
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Florida guard Tre Mann should be the player with the ball in his hands in clutch situations.

Welcome to this week's edition of Whitley's Believe It or Not. As a newcomer to Gainesville, I want to mirror the local zeitgeist. 

So fear not, fair citizens. As of today, this column will be gender neutral. I might even start taking a knee during football games to protest the UF band playing "We Are the Boys from Old Florida." 

That's in response to the Gainesville City Commission voting to remove gender-specific language from city codes. No more "fireman," "policeman" or "salesman." 

It's not just Gainesville, of course. The U.S. House of Representatives decided to use gender-neutral language in its rules. That's why Rep. Emanuel Cleaver concluded the opening prayer at the swearing-in ceremony by saying "Amen and Awomen." 

I realize this may strike some of you as politically correct mumbo jumbo. And I'll admit, my inner troglodyte might have a hard time thinking of Karl Malone as the "Mailperson" or watching Jack Nicholson in "A Few Good People." 

But as my close friend John Wayne once said, "A person's got to do what a person's got to do." So without further ado, on with the show ... 

If it's late February, it's time to start fixating on Florida's male-gendered basketball team's chances of making the NCAA tournament. If you're the nervous type, don't watch the final few minutes of Tuesday night's game at Auburn. 

If things follow recent form, the Gators will blow a double-digit lead and (might) hang on for a win. I suggest UF rely more on its man-to-man defense and point guard Tre Mann, but that would not be gender neutral ... 

Gratuitous Cheap Shot of the Week 

FSU has announced it's expanding the number of people allowed to gather for on-campus events from 50 to 100. Other than the opener against Notre Dame, that should be more than enough to handle the crowds at Doak Campbell Stadium this fall ... 

A kid at a football camp heckled Cam Newton over the weekend, yelling "You're a free agent. You're gonna be poor!" 

 That got me thinking — who is the richest ex-Gator athlete? And yes, Newton qualifies despite his most memorable throw being the tossing of a stolen computer out his dorm window to hide it from police in 2008. 

Going by career earnings in their sports, the winner is Al Horford, who's made $212.1 million and has two years left on a contract that'll pay them (non-gendered pronoun!) another $53 million. 

Next is Joakim Noah with $136.5 million and Chandler Parsons with $126.9 million. 

Newton is No. 4 with $122.5 million, so the heckler wasn't exactly right about Newton's financial situation. 

Emmitt Smith, who never tossed a stolen computer out of his dorm room at Florida, made $61.2 million toting the football for the Dallas Cowpeople and Arizona Cardinals. No disrespect to Parsons, but something's wrong when they've made twice as much as Emmitt ... 

This Just In — Inspired by the Gainesville City Commission, Augusta National Golf Club has announced it is changing the name of the 11th through 13th holes "Awomen Corner.".... 

Stud of the Week  — Garrett Fraess 

They are a resident at the UF Veterinary Hospital who tried to retrieve a shoe from a crocodile's belly. The shoe had fallen off the foot of someone who was zip-lining above a reptile habitat at the St. Augustine Alligator Farm. 

Yes, the 341-pound croc named Anuket was anesthetized at the time. And Fraess couldn't reach far enough to retrieve the shoe, so it had to be surgically removed. 

I don't care. I wouldn't stick my arm down a crocodile's throat for $126.9 million. ... 

True Confession: I had to look up "zeitgeist." 

Salary Perspective — Lionel Messi, who did not play soccer at UF, is by far the world's highest paid athlete, pulling down $168 million a year from Barcelona. 

But if you think that's a bit rich, CNBC reports that Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk made $140 billion in 2020. That's about $383 million a day. 

Anuket Redux:  Loyal reader Larry Tyree reported there is no evidence Florida cornerback Marco Wilson tossed the shoe into the reptile habitat in St. Augustine. ... 

Corrections: I was not actually close friends with John Wayne. And I would stick my arm down a crocodile's throat for $126.9 million. ... 

Finally, if you're bothered by the fact Elon Musk makes more in a minute than you will in a lifetime, just remember what Matthew the Disciple said: 

Person does not live by bread alone. 

— David Whitley is The Gainesville Sun's sports columnist. Contact him at dwhitley@gannett.com. And follow him on Twitter: @DavidEWhitley

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