published Tuesday, January 29th, 2013

5-at-10: Tiger Woods, the all-powerful NFL, and the cost of success

Woods wins.

Tiger Woods is not back. In a lot of ways he never left.

Tiger Woods is not the new No. 1. He has always been the dominant player of his generation.

Tiger Woods is not a lead-pipe cinch to win at least one major this year. He still will be the most frequent top pick in every major pool, though. Such is the dichotomy that is the game's biggest star and its biggest shame.

Tiger Woods' fall from the pinnacle of the world of pins and Pinnacles that started that Thanksgiving weekend night with a South Florida car wreck has been one of sports' biggest scandals. It helped birth Twitter and left the most individualistic of all sports in search of a face.

Whether you think Tiger is the best thing to happen to golf or the worst, there is no doubting the PGA Tour is infinitely more interesting with him in the mix. That's how singular sports work; they reach their apex when there is a lightning rod — the player that generates a rooting interest and a passion whether it's for or against. That was Tiger. That still is Tiger, and maybe even more dramatic and intense.

As great as Rory is and could be, and as talented and gifted as the next generation of golfing savants surely are, none of them are Tiger as a focal point. How can your root against Rory, unless you're pulling against him winning by 12 shots and taking the drama out of it? Who's the foil in the under-30 crowd? Rickie Fowler, because he dresses in the Sherbet collection and needs a haircut? Jason Dufner, because he makes a mannequin look excitable?

No, what the game needs from Tiger has never left, it's only been a few pages back on the leaderboard.

Sure, Tiger's game looked sharper this weekend at Torrey Pines during his 75th career win. Yes, he stayed supremely controlled through 67 holes — the late hiccups Monday more a result of slow play and an even slower tournament — and looked as much like Tiger as we've seen in five-plus years. You bet, his swing — is this his fifth or 50th swing adjustment? — looked rock solid, compact and consistent. And when he puts it together, there's still no one that stares down 5-footers and rolls them in the center better and more expectedly than Tiger.

But don't say he's back, because Tiger the player will never be back to what he was. Tiger's place in golf, though, remains firmly unchanged.

—————

The all-powerful NFL

Golf is not the only sport that is need of support and star power.

Buckle up gang, because these numbers are both eye-popping an potentially frightening depending what your favorite sport is.

According to the numbers collected by the guys at awfulannouncing.com, the Pro Bowl drew 12.7 million viewers Sunday night. Sure, that's a paltry number compared to the roughly 25-30 million viewers that most NFL Sunday night games get, but it's nothing at which to sneeze. In fact, the NFL is such a monolith, it reportedly had 31 of the top 32 most watched TV broadcasts this fall. The only party crasher was the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, which was 23rd with more than 22 million viewers.

Yep, the 22 most watched shows last fall were all NFL games. Read that again.

Is that because of the wide array of options for eye balls? Is that because of DVRs and Netflix? Is that because of the over-saturated reality market? Is that because the NFL is the most popular thing — not just sport, thing — around and it's not that close? Yes, Yes, Yes, and a MONSTER Yes.

Now, to further extend the reach of the NFL's dominance in the sporting consciousness, remember that the Pro Bowl — the borderline joke exhibition that many folks (including some of the players) have debated whether they should do away with — drew 12.7 million viewers. Want to know what other sports failed to top that number of viewers? Of course you do.

Try these, again, according to awfulannouncing.com:

•Games 1-3 of the World Series - 12.2, 12.3, 10.5 million viewers

•Kansas vs UNC Elite Eight - 11.7 million viewers

•LSU vs Alabama football - 11.4 million viewers

•Games 1-6 of the NBA Eastern Conference Finals - Max 11.1 million viewers

•Orange Bowl (NIU v FSU) - 10.5 million viewers

•Final Round US Open Golf - 9.6 million viewers

•NBA Western Conference Finals - Max 9.6 million viewers

•Michigan vs Ohio State football - 9.5 million viewers

•Olympic Men's Tennis Final - 8.6 million viewers

•Belmont Stakes - 7.7 million viewers

•Coca Cola 600 - 7.4 million viewers

•Indianapolis 500 - 6.8 million viewers

•Ryder Cup Day 3 - 5.5 million viewers

•Stanley Cup Final - Max 4.9 million viewers

•NASCAR Chase for the Cup - 4.2 million viewers

•Baylor vs Notre Dame WBB National Championship - 4.2 million viewers

•UFC on Fox 6 - 3.8 million viewers

—————

Super Bowl's superness

We all know there will be 100s of millions of folks watching the Super Bowl come Sunday. It has become a cultural phenomenon that has reached the level that the Super Bowl is the pinnacle for NFL football teams, TV networks, advertising and arguably parties. It has even become it's own brand, as in being an adjective of something being the ultimate... the Super Bowl of motorcross events; the Super Bowl of business meetings; the Super Bowl of Super Bowls. You get the idea.

And with all that's on the line, this Super Bowl has huge, Huge, HUGE meaning for these four folks. It's the Super Bowl XLVII Rushmore — the Super Bowl of Super stakes:

  • Joe Flacco: Dude has had a big month, outplaying the future (Andrew Luck), the master (Peyton Manning) and the best ever (Tom Brady). If he wins Sunday, there are reports he's going to ask for $20 million per year. That's the Super Bowl of paydays.

  • Beyonce: She is supremely talented, but her rep took a pretty big shot with the whole lip sync hubbub. This is the Super Bowl of stages. (Here's saying she kills it.)

  • Randy Moss: Is he a bit player in this theatrics of hysterics? You bet. But we all know what a ring means to a player's legacy, and while he'll never pass Jerry Rice in the receiving hierarchy, a title could all-but secure him the No. 2 spot in the game's list of wide outs. Call it the Super Bowl of legacies.

  • Ray Lewis: Like him or loathe him, he's a monster story. Or he's a monster depending on your view. This could be the Super Bowl of exits or the Super Bowl of So Close. 

As for today's gambling tip, well, let's defer to the folks at caseyhead.com who spent entirely too long breaking down the odds of the familiar "Super Bowl squares" board http://caseyshead.com/2013-super-bowl-squares-odds/. Suffice it to say they spent several hours to tell us the best squares are 0, 3 and 7.

This and that

We're super proud of the stuff the TFP sports staff does on a daily basis, but reading today's TFP sports section was especially rewarding — and took a little longer — considering the number of local stories that abound.

Here's a taste:

— UT ace Downtown Patrick Brown shares the story from late last night about UT's financial hurdles. The Sports Business Journal compiled all the reports and stories that have been written about the depth of the financial hole UT finds itself.

— Ace columnist Mark Wiedmer dishes on Pat Summitt's ceremony last night in Knoxville. Here's the best way we know to describe Pat, she's one of our heroes. Seriously.

— Prep ace Gene Henley tells us how high-scoring and high-volume Ole Miss guard and goof Marshall Henderson is good for college hoops. Know what? We agree. We're going to watch Marshall and the Rebel Black Bears against UK tonight, and normally that would have the same 5-at-10 interest level as an Antiques Roadshow.

— Marshall is just part of the Ole Miss massive revival, as SEC ace David Paschall writes here.

—An energetic bunch of Braves fans met some of the team, as North Georgia ace Lindsey Young shares here.

— UTC ace John Frierson gets us ready for a supremely important Southern Conference meeting.

Today's question

There’s a ton to discuss.

Is this the jumping off point for Tiger?

Is the Super Bowl going to be Super?

Is chas9 going to break his TV tonight when his Cats visit Marshall and the Black Bears?

Here’s another story that slipped under the radar: The fake-throw-to-third-spin-and-look-at-first move that every pitcher from 12 and up has tried at least a dozen times is now officially a balk. We support this change, if for no other reason than perception fits reality now. Granted, the reality is that the definition of a balk is trying to fool a baserunner, which is the purpose of every great pick-off move.

We’ve talked about this before, but let’s try to be specific: If you had one rule you could change, what are you addressing first?

Discuss.

about Jay Greeson...

Jay was named the Sports Editor of the Times Free Press in 2003 and started with the newspaper in May 2002 as the Deputy Sports Editor. He was born and raised in Smyrna, Ga., and graduated from Auburn University before starting his newspaper career in 1997 with the Newnan (Ga.) Times Herald. Stops in Clayton and Henry counties in Georgia and two years as the Sports Editor of the Marietta (Ga.) Daily Journal preceded Jay’s ...

9
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chas9 said...

There's a chicken wire barrier between me and the TV, so the big screen's safe, but it will be tense times during the Super Tuesday bout. I'm hoping for a close one. Ole Missy's not all The Marshall. They do a lot of team things well. Few turnovers, tons of steals, blocks and rebounds. And they lead the league in free throws made.

Michigan's #1 ranking is its first since The Fab Five. Mark's story today makes me glad I included the Wolvs in my final four pick.

Louisville became #1 and immediately lost three in a row, a murderer's row of Syracuse, Nova and Georgetown, before beating Pitt yesterday. The Big East is disappearing, but it sure is a tough league now.

I don't trust the RPI before Groundhog Day, but a quick peek shows Tennessee teams Belmont at 14, MTSU at 35 and Memphis at 49. That's too high for Belmont and MTSU, who'll likely get conference champ bids. At 49 Memphis is at low bubble level.

There was no hue and cry for me to reprise the Top Tenn rankings this year, and I'm so glad. The state's teams are even ranker this year than last.

January 29, 2013 at 10:14 a.m.
JonathanMCook said...

Jay-

Interesting times indeed.

Tiger Woods. Am I surprised he won Torrey Pines this weekend? Not really. Only thing I understand is Steven needs to obviously step his game up just a hair before David eventually meets Goliath or "The Power C" vs. "The Swoosh". I'm just saying.

NFL. Duhhhhhhhhh! Being serious now, the DMN does post the local ratings for all Cowboy games and even if their getting taken to the barn by Baltimore, Seattle, Washington or whoever, it's still going to be the top viewed program period. Cowboys can go 1-15 and still be a number 1 draw. Even on NBC's Sunday Night football (Yes Jay, I know the reasons why).

The shocker though to me is the fact it is number 1 period within the confines of the lower 48. The rest of the planet prefers soccer with stadiums that make Neyland look like Camp Jordan. But that's them and this is us.

Though I would like for CFB to go major league but that's another discussion for another 5 at 10.

January 29, 2013 at 10:53 a.m.
chas9 said...

Thanks to Patrick for the money woes story. I saw a story recently that said the SEC (best on the field) is only the fourth richest conference. The Big 10orhowmanyever is #1. Maybe we need some of their accountants. It'll be interesting to see which of the SEC programs with new coaches gets the biggest bounce in attendance this upcoming season.

Thanks to Mark for the heartwarming story about the Summitt celebration. When does Candace get her banner? And why can't AnDe spell her name Andy or Andi?

It's good to see The Lady Vols back in the top ten where they belong. Right beside The Lady Cats.

January 29, 2013 at 11:23 a.m.
Blueoval said...

Jay, Ricky Rudd was on the premier of Dallas last night and that got me to thinking about how tough of a Nascar driver he was. He once taped his eyes open(which were almost swollen completely shut because of a crash the previous day)so that he could race. Which athletes would be on your Rushmore of athletes that played hurt....Jordan with the flu in game 5 of the 1997 finals, Curt Schilling bleeding through his sock in game 6 of the 2004 AL Championship, Tiger limping through the 2008 US Open, Krik Gibson's 1988 World Seris HR would be at the top of my list.

January 29, 2013 at 11:53 a.m.
dawg747 said...

Ten Cup: I do not have a dog in the hunt Sunday but I hope win or lose Flacco gets his just due in pay. The dude deserves it with everything he has done for the Ravens since he has been there.

On another NFL note: The once proud franchise of Joe Namath, Weeb Eubank, Don Maynard and the best running back name of all time Emerson Boozer are at it again. First they hire Rex the joker Ryan as coach and then they try the Tebow experience. Now word is they are wanting to sign the Great Pizza Eater Lemarcus Russell. How much longer do you think the Jets fans will put up with this?

January 29, 2013 at 12:13 p.m.
jgreeson said...

9er —

Good thinking, barricading the TV. Marshall don't play. And yes, the Tenn's Ten would be untenable this year.

JMC —

What did you think about Dallas last night? The 5-at-10 clan offered two thumbs up.

Oval —

Great question, and it starts with Jack Youngblood, who played in the 1979 NFC title game with a broken leg. Yes, a broken leg.

747 —

If the J-E-T-S, Jets, Jets, Jets, sign Jamarcus Russell, here's saying he's going to be playing D-Tackle. Dude swallowed a lot of aggression, a long with a lot of pizzas. And some Purple Drank.

— 5-at-10

January 29, 2013 at 12:44 p.m.
ordinaryguy said...

Blueoval brought up a great Rushmore...Playing hurt...with all due respect to MJ, although I personally think Pistol Pete is THE MAN...slot one on Rushmore goes to Jack Youngblood who kept playing in the Super Bowl with a broken leg...slot two goes to Willis Reed 1970 NBA finals playing with a torn muscle...slot three goes to Paul Michael Levesque better known as Triple H who on two occasions has finished a match despite a shredded quad...and slot four goes to Kirk Gibson...the flu is nothing compared to these four, sorry MJ just doesnt cut it

January 29, 2013 at 12:50 p.m.
chas9 said...

Can anybody do a best of Cosby on sports in honor of Jello Bill coming to Chattaboogie? I remember his 1969 album titled (imaginatively) "Bill Cosby" was about sports.

Mr. Huxtable: "Women don't want to hear what you think. Women want to hear what they think---in a deeper voice.”

And Mr. Bill said this about Jay: “If you want to be seen, stand up. If you want to be heard, speak up. If you want to be appreciated, shut up.”

January 29, 2013 at 12:56 p.m.
jgreeson said...

OG —

We concur on Jack Youngblood. Isaiah Thomas going for 25 in the fourth quarter of Game 6 of the NBA Finals. We'll take Emmitt Smith going for 180-plus in a season-finale against the New York Giants to secure homefield advantage with a separated shoulder. And Byron Leftwich breaking his leg and being carried down the field by his linemen during a game-winning drive while at Marshall.

Almost making the cut — Curt Schilling, Kirk Gibson and Merle gutting it out in the Sectionals with stitches in his shoulder for the Hickory Huskers.

9er —

Well we could see Nick Saban looking at his in coming freshmen and saying, "Boys, I brought you into this world of big-time college football... and I can take you out."

And yes, that's a fair way to describe us — tall, loud and underappreciated.

— 5-at-10

January 29, 2013 at 1:40 p.m.
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