I was surprised by the voicemail that lasted over two minutes, the angry gentleman who lashed out at Phil Mickelson, how he had cheered him on for 30 years and would never do so again, his dismay at to the outright greed displayed by the man, already wealthy despite gambling losses and willing to throw his legacy aside to play against lesser competition for millions of Saudi-backed dollars.
Willis Cowlishaw turns 96 next week, and he doesn’t usually get worked up these days.
Yeah, a lot of people are angry about greed in sports, and it’s not just about the has-beens and never-beens with a few still-promising Tour players chasing those LIV bucks that Greg Norman is so proud. It’s all over the sports landscape these days. If they can remake the 1986 release Superior gun then it is surely time to do the same with the years 1987 Wall Street because the whole “greed is good, greed is good” talk feels in touch with that era.
At my alma mater, Great Sark was supposed to bring titles or at least compete for them, not lose to Kansas. In his second year he may not deliver a championship but thanks to NIL he put the Longhorns in luxury vehicles. Running back Bijan Robinson now drives a Lamborghini. Quarterback Quinn Ewers, who mastered the NIL game in terms of making money at Ohio State without throwing a pass, now drives an Aston Martin in Austin. The Horns may not rule the Big 12, but at least they’ll look sharp as they head to the fraternity party after that loss to Alabama on Sept. 10.
Money is the king of modern sports debate.
Is Jalen Brunson Worth $20 Million A Year? (Yes, even if it limits the Mavs enormously).
Is Dak worth $40 million a year? (Maybe, but they pinch subs on wide receivers again).
Is Marcus Semien Worth $25 Million A Year? (The last 10 days is a resounding “yes” after 40 games of a big “hell no”).
It’s like there’s this huge ball filled with money floating above the sports world, ready to topple over at any moment, except no one dies in these squid games.
Money out of control is not limited to land. After Tony Romo was paid around $1 million a week to work his way through a three-hour football game on CBS, Troy Aikman cashed in the same way at ESPN. Naturally, Tom Brady doubled the two with a $37.5 million a year contract to stream games if and when he retires.
We know how silly this all is, that if Aikman and Joe Buck, with a collective of $33 million a year, were given a steady diet of Vikings-Jaguars, Monday Night Football ratings would plummet anyway. Don’t worry, they have better games. But in Brady’s case, the man who’s become a modern-day Joe Montana at quarterback better not duplicate his idol in the broadcast booth Fox just dumped a fortune on.
Heck, some of us on this side of the media business see ESPN’s Adam Schefter getting $9 million and start thinking, ‘If only I had actually busted all those stories that Jimmy Johnson was feeding me at the bar in 1993 .was unofficial!
The truth is that we spend far more time being angry with money than happy to have it. Our salaries are perfectly fine until we hear that the guy in the next cubicle is making another $20,000. Suddenly we are furious.
It’s all about the Benjamins. Can it be surprising that the best boxer of the last 20 years is known as Floyd “Money” Mayweather?
Still, I don’t think it all gets our goat the way these golfers did. It’s not just the fact that they all feign complete ignorance when asked about the Saudi regime they help to legitimize. At the press conference preceding the first LIV event, every golfer who spoke seemed dumber than the one before them. Graeme McDowell said if there was anything he could do to improve the Saudi image, he would be happy to help. Then, when players were asked if they would play in a Putin-funded tournament, Ian Poulter replied: “That’s speculation, and I’m not going to comment on speculation.”
It was Poulter’s way of saying:How much does Bon Ol’ Vlad pay?
It’s a shame no one asked McDowell, a Protestant raised in Northern Ireland, if he would have played 20 years ago in a league funded by the Irish Republican Army. Curious to know if McDowell would have continued with his “we are not politicians” deflection line.
I shouldn’t say they all feigned ignorance. When Dustin Johnson is on the mic, there is no pretense.
The fact that our government is doing business with Saudi Arabia and that our president can meet with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the man suspected of orchestrating the hit on journalist Jamal Khashoggi, certainly clouds the issue. While they don’t dive too deep or defend anyone here, politicians are prone to do questionable things on one side in order to curry favor with the other (lower gas prices, anyone ?). In this case, the golfers who rank second (Mickelson), third (Dustin Johnson) and 10th (Sergio Garcia) on the all-time winning list are not looking to do more than line their own pockets, although they all speak fondly of “developing the game of golf.
Those who defend these golfers who jump ship remind us that NBA players make a lot of money in China, which isn’t exactly high on the human rights list. While the league’s commitment to China should continue to be questioned, basketball players don’t decide who the NBA does business with or which companies sponsor their teams. If Steph Curry left Golden State for $100 million to go play in a recreational league funded by the Chinese government, these people would have an argument.
No matter where you stand, there is no doubt that these defections will have a profoundly negative impact on the PGA Tour. You can’t lose Johnson, Garcia, Bryson DeChambeau, Patrick Reed and surely many more to follow and pretend this LIV Tour doesn’t exist.
Some of us just don’t like change. Some of us also dislike unbridled greed on the part of the fabulously rich. But none of us should have been surprised by any of this. After all, we’re approaching the 50th anniversary of “Deep Throat” Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward to “follow the money” in a DC parking lot.
Yes, it was nice to hear Rory McIlroy at the Canadian Open say, “Any decision you make in life just for the money is usually not going the right way.”
But Rory is the exception. And many of his contemporaries decide that in addition to competing on the best Round the World and defining his legacy, money is the one and only king.
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