Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Its time to lay down

31 January 2006

Tiger and Me

While it is still true that Tiger Woods is the epitome of fit and confident athletic coolness and he is the cutting edge of sports marketing and fashion, it is also true that, when Tiger blows his nose, and crinkles his face, Tiger is not far removed from the guy who is actually named Eldrick and whose nickname on the Stanford golf team was Urkel.

Tiger, although an amazing athlete who has taken a sport, ala Michael Jordan, to a level of a cultural phenomenon, nonetheless, the guy really needs to lighten up. He is stiffer than an old wood shafted putter with the press and he looks like he has as much fun on a golf course as a guy on a blind date with the winner of the Camilla Parker Bowles look-alike contest.

In retrospect, in my opinion, it was a huge mistake for Woods to take counsel with Michael Jordan at the start of his career. Jordan’s reputation as a greedy bully and his comments of referring to his teammates as “my supporting cast” and his need to maintain a huge buffer from his adoring public, has not held up well and the same is happening to Tiger.

As huge as Jordan was in the NBA, the guy couldn’t get anyone to sell him a team. And his does-not-suffer-fools-gladly prickliness has floated endless rumors of Jordan’s unpopularity with the powers that be in the NBA.

Fair or not, the buzz in San Diego, during and after a Tiger visit for the Buick Open at Torrey Pines, is not good. Rumors abound over bad or no tips, unfriendliness and a generally surly how-dare-you-enter-my-stratosphere? attitude from Tiger and his camp. Look at how Tiger has instructed his thug caddy, Steve Williams, to employ a scorched earth policy to anyone who might inconvenience his master.

Phil Mickelson, on the other hand, may be unpopular with the tour players, but he is beloved by his hometown San Diego fans. Much hospital visiting and signing autographs for the military.

Although the demands were not as great back then, nonetheless, Tiger should have used Arnold
Palmer or even Jack Nicklaus as his blueprint, not Michael Jordan. Yes, even the all-knowing laconic Golden Bear seemed like Carrot Top to his fans and the press compared to Tiger.

Wouldn’t you think there would be someone at Nike who would work on making Tiger seem easier going? Well then, trust me, you have never been to Nike.

A long time ago I interviewed for a sports marketing position at Nike – a job that I wouldn’t have gotten if every other sports marketing hack in the country suddenly vanished – and you simply would not believe the cult-like sense of superiority and paranoia that chokes that place. The holier-than-thou attitude came from the top, Phil Knight, down to the guy who checks and rechecks your ID on their Beaverton “campus” and then gives you a dirty look like “Why is this idiot even here?”

Knowing how arrogant Nike is as a corporation – their mission statement is to not only destroy all competition, but to humiliate it in the process while single-handedly saving the world – Nike is probably fanning Tiger’s stuck up image.

It just hit me. You know what Tiger needs? A full time comedy writer on his staff.

You got it, folks, for a modest fee, say, a chunk off his new Yacht, your’s truly will give Tiger Woods little funny snippets to throw into his dryer-than-sandpaper-toast delivery.

Now I’m not saying I can turn Eldrick Urkel into Shecky Green, but the guy is smart. There is no doubt I can turn that frown upside down with a few “Did you hear the one about my carbon fiber shaft?” jokes. Hell, the guy has a full time wardrobe manager, what’s a few bucks for a comedy writer to him?

The Press: “Tiger, how is that once sore knee of yours?”

Tiger; “Fine, but it does flare up at night when I have to get on it to beg Elin for sex.”

The Press: “Hey Tiger, what is your favorite thing to do when you are not playing golf?”

Tiger; “Making my knee sore.”

The Press: “Tiger, you have played golf with President Bush. What advice did you give him about his golf game?”

Tiger; “To develop an exit strategy and play tennis instead”

The Press; “Tiger, how ugly is Charles Barkley’s swing?”

Tiger; “Have you ever seen John Daly in the shower?”

The Press; “Yeah?”

Tiger; “Worse.”

That kind of, killer, killer stuff. In no time the press will be saying ; “David Flaherty who?”

Tiger, boo boo, sweety, sugar-bumps, have your people call my people, i.e., me, and we’ll do lunch. You can even bring your wife, what’s her name, if you want.