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Tom Brokaw's Commencement Speech at Ole Miss made Alabama Fans #MadOnline

Don't people know that commencement speeches are very serious business?

Thos Robinson/Getty Images

This past Saturday, Tom Brokaw, the former NBC Nightly News anchor and the author of "The Greatest Generation," gave the ceremonial commencement address before the University of Mississippi's 2016 graduating class were conferred their degrees. His commencement address, like the majority of commencement addresses, was likely a heap of platitudes peppered with an anecdote or two, and a charge for those in the audience to not be a dang loser and do something with their lives. That is to say that his commencement address was very likely not to be particularly remarkable, other than the fact that he, a legendary American journalist who was once a guest lecturer at Ole Miss, was the person delivering it.

But Mr. Brokaw's commencement address wasn't going to be swept into the heaping trash heap of forgotten commencement addresses, for he was going to say something memorable, something that would get people mad as hell and demanding satisfaction. Tom Brokaw, the man who for 22 years told the news to millions and millions of Americans, the man who mourned with us after the Challenger explosion, celebrated with the free world as the Berlin Wall came down, and grieved over our lost innocence on 9/11, said in his remarks on Saturday that he was happy to be speaking at Ole Miss, because "If [he were] speaking at Alabama's commencement, [he'd] have to use smaller words and shorter sentences."

Et tu, Thomas?

Out of context, Brokaw's comments are a lazy joke that utilizes a tired and - sure, why not - offensive stereotype of Southerners. In context, well, it's still just that, but it's meant to get a fun giggle out of the audience. It's not something that's born out of some firmly held belief regarding the University of Alabama or the state in which it's situated. If anything, it's a corny, eye-roll inducing joke that's only somewhat funny given the status of the person delivering it and the circumstances in which he's delivering it.

So, it's harmless, and surely Alabama fans, fans of the most successful football program of all time, wouldn't be so sensitive as to publicly rebuke Mr. Brokaw, right?

Oh, y'all know that's not what happened. As we'd all expect, this egregious misstep by Tom Brokaw made lots of Alabama fans very mad online, where they took to Twitter to announce their displeasure.

Others were more pointed in their responses.

Nice Thesaurusin' there!

This is funny for two reasons: First, if you're using "Number of Rhodes Scholars as alumni" as a metric, then Ole Miss does wipe the floor there (25>15), and "We also rule football, bitch" is a great hashtag.

See, the joke here is that Laremy Tunsil smoked weed through a gas mask that one time. There were a lot of Tunsil goofs directed at Mr. Brokaw, which only makes sense because of how clever college football fans are on Twitter.


Probably not. I'm sure Ole Miss has something in the budget somewhere for Commencement activities.

This is a pertinent question.

Yeah that's probably it.

Yeah, Tom Brokaw! Don't you know that there are people out there with master's degrees -- with an "S"?! Show some damn respect.

Are you suggesting that the commencement speaker at Alabama should just shout "ROLL TIDE"? Because that actually makes a ton of sense.

Talk about getting owned! He mentioned Tom Brokaw's large following in Alabama and suggested that his remarks at Ole Miss would jeopardize his favor with said following, right before yanking the rug out from under the whole thing by declaring that Tom Brokaw does not, in fact, have a large following in Alabama!

He always thought you were a fool, Tom, but that was just his keen intuition. Now, he has reason to believe his suspicions, and that's on you, Tom.

It's kinda weird that you always hated NBC but did not know why until this past weekend.

You're probably right. I'd wager that he didn't know this, and likely still doesn't! Surely had he bothered to look up this very, very important information, he wouldn't have made such an outlandish and offensive remark about the University of Alabama.

Q:How can you tell if someone's an engineer?
A:Don't worry, they'll tell you.

Yeah, who the hell does this guy think he is? The anchor of NBC Nightly News for 22 years and a bestselling author or some shit? (Also, chiding someone from what you perceive as an "unearned air of self-importance" before signing your correspondent with "Alabama resident" is so wonderfully ironic.)

Good point. I'm sure Tom Brokaw cares deeply about Ole Miss' NCAA investigation, and sees how those concerns are relevant to the goof he made.

"Mr. Brokaw, these are great remarks! Really good stuff in here! But there is this bit about Alabama, and..."

"Yes, go on..."

"Well, did you know their football team has won a lot of games and stuff? You can't call fans of a winning football team stupid, can you?!"

(This is how real people think these things should happen.)

Taylor Hicks is perpetually #madonline because nobody buys his albums.

So, uh, Tom... This person probably isn't joking. You really should sleep with one eye open from now on if you're gonna spend any time within a few hundred miles of Tuscaloosa.