His life, apparently, is doomed to perpetual tragedy. What should have been the concluding scene of the Tiger Woods biopic — his inspirational return from the golfing dead at Augusta National — has slipped again into abject hell just two years later. The gods of darkness refuse to grant relief and allow peace.
Instead, on a Tuesday morning near the southern California suburb where he learned to play, Woods survived a crash that would have killed most of us but suffered crush injuries to both lower legs, including a compound fracture and shattered ankle. Meaning, he faces a future of disability if muscles and nerves are irreversibly damaged. Never mind golf. The question is how and when he’ll walk again, which was becoming a difficult chore as it was.
For the record, he was wearing a seat belt. If not, he likely would be dead.
On a curvy stretch of road known for accidents and high speeds, Woods had to be extricated from his mid-sized SUV after the vehicle: (1) struck a median; (2) wiped out a “Welcome to Rolling Hills Estates” sign; (3) crossed two lanes; (4) rammed into a curb; (5) thrashed through trees; and (6) rolled over multiple times, somehow avoiding a telephone pole before landing in the steep hillside brush about a par-5 fairway from the pavement. With airbags activated, rescue personnel had to remove Woods through the windshield with an ax and pry bar and place him in an ambulance before several hours of surgery.
Stunt doubles wouldn’t have lived. Tiger Woods, cat that he is, must have nine lives.
“I will say that it’s very fortunate Mr. Woods was able to come out of this alive,” said Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy Carlos Gonzalez, the first responder at the crash scene.
We are thankful that Tiger, the human being, survived. The same survival won’t be possible for Tiger, the golfing legend, or, for that matter, the sport he popularized like no one else. If he seemed larger than life in completing a full-circle comeback at the Masters, this disaster is beyond the realm of miracles, ending a competitive career already in peril after a fifth microdiscectomy surgery on his back in December. All as the world asks, cruelly but fairly: Was Woods of clear mind just past 7 a.m. in Rancho Palos Verdes, where he was leaving his resort hotel and driving to a country club for a photo/video shoot? And doing so, said L.A. County Sheriff Alex Villanueva, at a “relatively greater speed than normal” while driving down a hill?
Authorities say there was no evidence of impairment, such as the opioids found in his system almost four years ago, the last time he was investigated at roadside. Said Gonzalez: “I spoke to him. I asked him what his name was. He told me his name was Tiger, and at that moment, I immediately recognized him. I asked him if he knew where he was, the time of day. He seemed lucid and calm.” There will be toxicology tests because there have to be. Not until we scan the results will we know if Tiger Woods was just another reckless driver or someone who continues to have a serious problem.
This is not how it should end for the man who revolutionized his sport and produced, for a decade’s stretch, the best golf ever played. At Christmas, he never looked happier as he played a family tournament with his 11-year-old son, Charlie, whose fist-pumps, club-twirls and matching blood-red shirt evoked stunning images of his old man. “I don’t really care about my game. I’m just making sure Charlie has the time of his life,” he said. “And he’s doing that.”
But Tiger Woods’ life obviously wasn’t meant to be a fairy tale. The creepy reality can’t be avoided: Each of his pitfalls happened when behind the wheel of an SUV, leading to viral moments that have made him the most scandalous sports figure of the social media age. His legendary contemporaries in the 21st century — Tom Brady and LeBron James — generally have led the idyllic lives of kings. Woods continues to be a breaking news bulletin first, an 82-time champion second.
November 2009. His phony facade, which produced an endorsement fortune baed on a family-man image, was rocked when he crashed his SUV into a fire hydrant outside his Florida mansion. He was unconscious for more than five minutes before his soon-to-be-ex-wife, Elin, smashed in a window with a golf club and removed him from his seat. Soon, Woods was in a Mississippi clinic for sex addiction after a string of extramarital affairs with his bimbo brigade.
May 2017. Reliant on prescription opioids after numerous surgeries on his back and knees, Woods was charged with driving under the influence when arrested in the wee hours, answering “Orange County” when police in Jupiter, Fla., asked his whereabouts. He soon entered rehab for opioids and a sleep disorder, the first step in a stirring, storybook process that led him to claim his 15th major title — after 10 agonizing years of misses and failing health — on an unforgettable Sunday at The Masters.
February 2021. Prayers up.
“I’m sick to my stomach,” said Justin Thomas, one of Woods’s close friends in the sport. “Man, I just hope he’s all right. Just worry for his kids, you know. I’m sure they’re struggling.”
“We are all pulling for you, Tiger,” tweeted longtime rival Phil Mickelson. “We are so sorry that you and your family are going through this tough time. Everyone hopes and prays for your full and speedy recovery.”
If life were fair, Woods would have kept strolling in that fifth green jacket forevermore — contending for more majors, captaining the U.S. Ryder Cup team, performing humanitarian work and hosting his PGA Tour event up the freeway in Pacific Palisades, the Genesis Invitational, where he had spent the final round Sunday (and picked up the Genesis SUV he was driving Tuesday). But in a CBS interview, something was amiss. Jim Nantz, like the rest of us, wanted to know if Woods would be at Augusta in April. He wouldn’t commit.
“God I hope so. I gotta get there first,” he said. “A lot of it is based on my surgeons and doctors and therapist and making sure I do it correctly. This is the only back I’ve got. I don’t have much wiggle room left here.”
Did he have a timetable? “I don’t know what the plan is,” Woods said.
“We miss you,” Nantz said, as only Nantz can.
Less than 48 hours later, we almost lost him.
“Barbara and I just heard about Tiger’s accident, and like everyone else, we are deeply concerned,” tweeted Jack Nicklaus, the only man with more major championships than Woods. “We want to offer him our heartfelt support and prayers at this difficult time. Please join us in wishing Tiger a successful surgery and all the best for a full recovery.”
Said PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan: “On behalf of the Tour and our players, Tiger is in our prayers and will have our full support as he recovers.”
Said Augusta National chairman Fred Ridley: “Tiger Woods is part of the Augusta National family, and news of his accident is upsetting to all of us. We pray for him, for his full recovery and for his family during this difficult time.”
As someone who traveled the world to cover many of Woods’ majors and victories, I can say the ride was as thrilling as chronicling the Michael Jordan dynasty. But if Jordan dealt with tragedy of his own, such as his father’s still-mysterious murder, his career never was derailed by drama and injuries while mostly avoiding fallout from his gambling misdeeds. Tiger’s wounds have been self-inflicted and damaging, costing him a chance to surpass Nicklaus’ record of 18 major titles. Why was he carousing in Vegas and New York? Why was he driving after an opioid cocktail?
And why was he speeding in Rancho Palos Verdes, for no good reason? Why was he pushing his luck, again, after luck always has pushed back?
When his father turned loose his prodigy in 1996, he predicted a massive effect on humankind. Proclaimed the Earl of Woods: “Tiger will do more than any other man in history to change the course of humanity. … I don’t know exactly what form this will take, but he is the Chosen One. He’ll have the power to impact nations. Not people. Nations.”
That day, a curse was born.
Will it ever have mercy on Eldrick Woods?
Being Wrong On-Air Isn’t A Bad Thing
…if you feel yourself getting uncomfortable over the fact that you were wrong, stop to realize that’s your pride talking. Your ego. And if people call you out for being wrong, it’s actually a good sign.
In the press conference after the Warriors won their fourth NBA title in eight years, Steph Curry referenced a very specific gesture from a very specific episode of Get Up that aired in August 2021.
“Clearly remember some experts and talking heads putting up the big zero,” Curry said, then holding up a hollowed fist to one eye, looking through it as if it were a telescope.
“How many championships we would have going forward because of everything we went through.”
Yep, Kendrick Perkins and Domonique Foxworth each predicted the Warriors wouldn’t win a single title over the course of the four-year extension Curry had just signed. The Warriors won the NBA title and guess what? Curry gets to gloat.
The funny part to me was the people who felt Perkins or Foxworth should be mad or embarrassed. Why? Because they were wrong?
That’s part of the game. If you’re a host or analyst who is never wrong in a prediction, it’s more likely that you’re excruciatingly boring than exceedingly smart. Being wrong is not necessarily fun, but it’s not a bad thing in this business.
You shouldn’t try to be wrong, but you shouldn’t be afraid of it, either. And if you are wrong, own it. Hold your L as I’ve heard the kids say. Don’t try to minimize it or explain it or try to point out how many other people are wrong, too. Do what Kendrick Perkins did on Get Up the day after the Warriors won the title.
“When they go on to win it, guess what?” He said, sitting next to Mike Greenberg. “You have to eat that.”
Do not do what Perkins did later that morning on First Take.
Perkins: “I come on here and it’s cool, right? Y’all can pull up Perk receipts and things to that nature. And then you give other people a pass like J-Will.”
Jason Williams: “I don’t get passes on this show.”
Perkins: “You had to, you had a receipt, too, because me and you both picked the Memphis Grizzlies to beat the Golden State Warriors, but I’m OK with that. I’m OK with that. Go ahead Stephen A. I know you’re about to have fun and do your thing. Go ahead.”
Stephen A. Smith: “First of all, I’m going to get serious for a second with the both of you, especially you, Perk, and I want to tell you something right now. Let me throw myself on Front Street, we can sit up there and make fun of me. You know how many damn Finals predictions I got wrong? I don’t give a damn. I mean, I got a whole bunch of them wrong. Ain’t no reason to come on the air and defend yourself. Perk, listen man. You were wrong. And we making fun, and Steph Curry making fun of you. You laugh at that my brother. He got you today. That’s all. He got you today.”
It’s absolutely great advice, and if you feel yourself getting uncomfortable over the fact that you were wrong, stop to realize that’s your pride talking. Your ego. And if people call you out for being wrong, it’s actually a good sign. It means they’re not just listening, but holding on to what you say. You matter. Don’t ruin that by getting defensive and testy.
WORTH EVERY PENNY
I did a double-take when I saw Chris Russo’s list of the greatest QB-TE combinations ever on Wednesday and this was before I ever got to Tom Brady-to-Rob Gronkowski listed at No. 5. It was actually No. 4 that stopped me cold: Starr-Kramer.
My first thought: Jerry Kramer didn’t play tight end.
My second thought: I must be unaware of this really good tight end from the Lombardi-era Packers.
After further review, I don’t think that’s necessarily true, either. Ron Kramer did play for the Lombardi-era Packers, and he was a good player. He caught 14 scoring passes in a three-year stretch where he really mattered, but he failed to catch a single touchdown pass in six of the 10 NFL seasons he played. He was named first-team All-Pro once and finished his career with 229 receptions.
Now this is not the only reason that this is an absolutely terrible list. It is the most egregious, however. Bart Starr and Kramer are not among the 25 top QB-TE combinations in NFL history let alone the top five. And if you’re to believe Russo’s list, eighty percent of the top tandems played in the NFL in the 30-year window from 1958 to 1987 with only one tandem from the past 30 years meriting inclusion when this is the era in which tight end production has steadily climbed.
Then I found out that Russo is making $10,000 per appearance on “First Take.”
My first thought: You don’t have to pay that much to get a 60-something white guy to grossly exaggerate how great stuff used to be.
My second thought: That might be the best $10,000 ESPN has ever spent.
Once a week, Russo comes on and draws a reaction out of a younger demographic by playing a good-natured version of Dana Carvey’s Grumpy Old Man. Russo groans to JJ Redick about the lack of fundamental basketball skills in today’s game or he proclaims the majesty of a tight end-quarterback pairing that was among the top five in its decade, but doesn’t sniff the top five of all-time.
And guess what? It works. Redick rolls his eyes, asks Russo which game he’s watching, and on Wednesday he got me to spend a good 25 minutes looking up statistics for some Packers tight end I’d never heard of. Not satisfied with that, I then moved on to determine Russo’s biggest omission from the list, which I’ve concluded is Philip Rivers and Antonio Gates, who connected for 89 touchdowns over 15 seasons, which is only 73 more touchdowns than Kramer scored in his career. John Elway and Shannon Sharpe should be on there, too.
Money Isn’t The Key Reason Why Sellers Sell Sports Radio
I started selling sports radio because I enjoyed working with clients who loved sports, our station, and wanted to reach fans with our commercials and promotions.
A radio salesperson’s value being purely tied to money is overrated to me. Our managers all believe that our main motivation for selling radio is to make more money. They see no problem in asking us to sell more in various ways because it increases our paycheck. We are offered more money to sell digital, NTR, to sell another station in the cluster, weekend remotes, new direct business, or via the phone in 8 hours.
But is that why you sell sports radio?
In 2022, the Top 10 highest paying sales jobs are all in technology. Not a media company among them. You could argue that if it were all about making money, we should quit and work in tech. Famous bank robber Willie Sutton was asked why he robbed twenty banks over twenty years. He reportedly said,” that’s where the money is”. Sutton is the classic example of a person who wanted what money could provide and was willing to do whatever it took to get it, BUT he also admitted he liked robbing banks and felt alive. So, Sutton didn’t do it just for the money.
A salesperson’s relationship with money and prestige is also at the center of the play Death of a Salesman. Willy Loman is an aging and failing salesman who decides he is worth more dead than alive and kills himself in an auto accident giving his family the death benefit from his life insurance policy. Loman wasn’t working for the money. He wanted the prestige of what money could buy for himself and his family.
Recently, I met a woman who spent twelve years selling radio from 1999-2011. I asked her why she left her senior sales job. She said she didn’t like the changes in the industry. Consolidation was at its peak, and most salespeople were asked to do more with less help. She described her radio sales job as one with “golden handcuffs”. The station paid her too much money to quit even though she hated the job. She finally quit. The job wasn’t worth the money to her.
I started selling sports radio because I enjoyed working with clients who loved sports, our station, and wanted to reach fans with our commercials and promotions. I never wanted to sell anything else and specifically enjoyed selling programming centered around reaching fans of Boise State University football. That’s it. Very similar to what Mark Glynn and his KJR staff experience when selling Kraken hockey and Huskies football.
I never thought selling sports radio was the best way to make money. I just enjoyed the way I could make money. I focused on the process and what I enjoyed about the position—the freedom to come and go and set my schedule for the most part. I concentrated on annual contracts and clients who wanted to run radio commercials over the air to get more traffic and build their brand.
Most of my clients were local direct and listened to the station. Some other sales initiatives had steep learning curves, were one-day events or contracted out shaky support staff. In other words, the money didn’t motivate me enough. How I spent my time was more important.
So, if you are in management, maybe consider why your sales staff is working at the station. Because to me, they’d be robbing banks if it were all about making lots of money.
Media Noise: BSM Podcast Network Round Table
Demetri Ravanos welcomes the two newest members of the BSM Podcast Network to the show. Brady Farkas and Stephen Strom join for a roundtable discussion that includes the new media, Sage Steele and Roger Goodell telling Congress that Dave Portnoy isn’t banned from NFL events.