I had several reactions when news spread of Tiger Woods' serious one-car accident.
I was worried for his safety. We all were, judging by the outpouring of support, well-wishes and prayers.
I was worried about his state, considering it was a one-car accident discovered that early in the morning — and with Tiger's previous incident. (Late note: It's been reported that he was not impaired, so that's great news.)
I was sad for his family. Yes, Tiger has earned a king's collection of material gifts, but times like this prove one of my father's adages forever true: "It ain't really a problem if money can fix it." (And yes, we said that almost every day in the five months he had left from brain cancer diagnosis to death in 2018. True then; true now.)
I was relieved as the news started to become more focused and detailed. Yes, words like 'crush' when dealing arms and legs and compound fractures are scary, but the realizations that injury and pain did not appear to be heading to death and sorrow were welcomed. Especially when you heard this quote from Los Angeles County Sheriff's Deputy Carlos Gonzalez, who responded to the accident: "It was very fortunate that Mr. Woods was able to come out of this alive."
I was introspective, looking at my two kids and feeling Tiger's sadness and fear, because while I'll never know his bank account or feel what it's like to wear a Green Jacket or hit the most famous golf shot in the history of golf shots, I am a father. And if I had to guess, despite the physical agony that he has endured in the last 24 hours and the pain left before him, the biggest ache is his champion's heart because of what he could have lost.
Again, that's not about golf or greatness, fortune or fame. A father staring at his own mortality wondering if he did enough, worried about what he will miss, aching for another day, another song, another rec sports game, another chance to make pancakes, you name it.
As great as Tiger is, as impervious to pressure as he always appeared to be, that father fear spares none of us.
Finally, and with much relief as the news turned positive last night, my final feeling on Tiger Woods was appreciation.
Sure, the scandals and the injuries may have derailed his all-time career arc in terms of passing Jack, but I also know this:
No singular athlete in my lifetime was more game-changing and more 'must-see TV' at the heights of his powers than Tiger Woods. Considering the exposure he gave golf to so many, and the joy to the masses. Out and out joy people.
His golf game was a gift from the gods — for all of us.
We've done thousands of these things we call the 5-at-10, and a majority of them ended with a Rushmore conversation starter. (Side note: JTC, excellent work on the Rushmores my man. Thanks for playing along.)
But for a Rushmore-consistent, family-oriented, interweb-based sports conversation on this day when we reflect to the greatness that was Tiger Woods, I say he's on the Rushmore of all-time all-sports stars. There with Ali, Pele and probably MJ. (And if you had to remove one, MJ may be pulled before Tiger considering how global golf is.)
The Atlanta Falcons are retooling above the field. New coach Arthur Smith and new GM Terry Fontenot come to town, and when you're replacing both those spots in the same cycle, well, it's not because the previous regime was racking up 12-wins seasons and Super Bowl appearances.
The Falcons roster is aging, expensive and, simply put, dysfunctional.
The mess is a by-product of giving Dan Quinn a year (maybe 2) too many and not realizing that the apex of Quinn's run was because of Kyle Shanahan and his ability to maximize the skill sets of Matt Ryan and Julio Jones. It also did not hurt that Shanahan's running game has always featured interchangeable backs and the zone blocking sets his father all-but patented.
(Side note: New coach Arthur Smith, also has a famous father, although it's not football. Still, as one of three kids of billionaire FedEx founder and CEO Fred Smith, well, Smith's net worth is larger than yours and mine, safe to say.)
Well, the new coach and the new GM met with the media Tuesday. It's an interesting time for the franchise since arguably the two best offensive pieces in Falcons history — Ryan and Jones — are at a crossroads. As players and as pieces of the Falcons' future.
Jones was not able to stay healthy in 2020. He also turned 32 earlier this month, so not exactly the age in which you expect peak performance from a wide receiver. Don't get me wrong, he's a dude, for sure, and should be viewed as a first-ballot Hall of Famer in my mind, but in hard-cap sport that frequently pays star-caliber players for what the previously did rather than what they can still do, you have to believe the new Falcons leadership is exploring every option.
Same with Ryan, who was the MVP of the league when the Falcons went to the Super Bowl and won the first half overwhelmingly over the Patriots. (Pretty sure, like Caddyshack 2, the second half of that Super Bowl never happened.)
There simply is not the connection between these two aging stars for Fontenot, who replaced GM Thomas Dmitroff. Consider this: Dmitroff's first ever draft pick as a GM was Ryan; Dmitroff's best and most praised draft move was sending a parcel of picks to Cleveland for the pick that became Jones. (And in a lot of ways, other than the Calvin Ridley pick, almost all of the other Dmitroff picks were average or worse.)
Beyond the emotion, too, is the real value of these two. Yes, there is value in players being loved by their communities, and I believe Ryan and Jones are. But when the turnstiles swing open again — yeah, Chas, that almost assuredly will be 2022 (at the earliest) before we get full stadiums again — Falcons fans are going to come back regardless whether No. 2 is taking snaps and No. 11 is catching passes from No. 2.
And in terms of being competitive — something the new coach and GM must do or they will be walked out too — the conversation has to start with those two.
Can you win paying Ryan $30 million of a salary cap that is going to be right around six times that, give or take a few million? Ryan is the 10th-highest paid QB in the league. Is he still a top 10 performer at that position?
As for Jones, he's the second-highest paid wide out at $22 million, so that's $52 million out of $185 to a statuesque QB and a 32-year-old receiver. Heck, I'm not an everyday math guy, but that's a tough equation to crack, no?
On a which way Wednesday, which of those all-time Falcons star would you try to trade? Sure, value is relative to what someone's willing to give you, and as good as they have been, it's really hard to see many teams line up for either Ryan or Jones.
(Side note: Take this for what you will, but in Tuesday's news conference, Smith, the former Titans OC who had a lot of success with a collection of less-accomplished receivers said he was excited about coaching this team and mentioned Ryan, Calvin Ridley, Chris Lindstrom and Younghoe Koo. Not to read too much into anything, but there seems to be a noticeable name missing.)
OK, this is not what you expected
In a nutshell, my job is to call them like I see them.
Sometimes, if you criticize the wrong morning show, that comes with a cost as we all know.
But being critical is a big part of the business. Just the way it is. But it can't be every part of the business, then you are just the screamin' columnist/talking head who is always crying wolf or talking about how bad everything is or worst of all, dealing in fear porn for clicks and attention.
One of the only true ways to validate criticism is to counter it with praise when warranted.
So, way to go Joe Biden. Yep, way to go Joe.
In at least three examples in recent days, President Biden put policy over politics and made decisions for the people rather than his party.
That is effective leadership at its core, seeing the right path even when it make not please your buddies.
Biden appears willing to follow some of Donald Trump's tariff policies in dealing with China. A big part of our leadership vacuum in recent years stems from the appearance that our elected officials are more worried about who came up with the idea than the idea itself.
Trump made a lot of mistakes. A lot. And the unraveling at the end will be the second paragraph in his obit. It also will forever cloud the good moves he made, especially in terms of foreign policy. I hope Joe only fine tunes Trump's hard stance in regard to tariffs with China.
Biden also made AOC mad, and that is also promising. No, not because it's AOC. Yes, AOC and I see eye-to-eye as often as Tom Cruise and Shaq, but she no doubt deserves a visor tip for all the efforts she made to help those in Texas who had their lives uprooted with the winter storms.
It's not about who in his party Biden made mad, it's that he's willing to make decisions with the goal being a solution rather than pleasing his party allies. (And no matter your stance on immigrant detention centers for children, that Biden reopened one of the facilities because of overrun at other facilities because of COVID seems like a no-brainer, no?)
This and that
— But it's not all peaches and cream (or Peaches and Herb for that matter, "Reunited and it feels so good") for me and ol' Joe. I hate that he has removed government support from the Connecticut lawsuit looking to ban transgender athletes from competing in girls high school sports. I wrote about this issue last month, and my feelings are just as strong that allowing those born male who identify as female to compete against girls in high school sports is a violation of Title IX and the rights of those athletes born female.
— Mike Richards has made a splash filling the clown-sized shoes of Alex Trebek as the host of Jeopardy! (Side question: Should that sentence end "the host of Jeopardy!" or does it need a period at the end? Because, while Mike was swell and all, I'm certainly not screaming his praises at anyone. It's just the show's proper name includes the exclamation point, Thoughts?)
— You know the rules. Here's Paschall on UT's new QB coach, who is more than familiar with Josh Heupel's ways.
— OK, this is not about spin as much as it is perspective, in my mind. We know the ratings were historically bad for the season-opening Daytona 500, drawing disastrous 2.8. It was the least-watched Daytona 500 ever, down by more than a third in viewers and ratings from the previous worst. That's the bad. Here's the good: Last Sunday's NASCAR race at Daytona's 'Roval' course drew an insanely good 2.8 rating, up 40 percent from the same race last August, which aired on NBC. Yes, the Roval race was down 13 percent compared to Las Vegas, which hosted the second race of the season last year. It was the top sports event of the weekend — yes, college basketball is really in the outhouse — and was third among the all-important 'adults 18-49 demographic, behind only SNL and American Idol over the weekend. And any increases in the sports TV comps are worth praising.
— I love stories like this. Ravens coach John Harbaugh picked up an the tab for everyone at a swanky seafood restaurant Tuesday night, covering the $2,000-plus bill at a charity fundraiser. Yes, he makes millions and that was like your average dude who makes $50K putting $15 in the collection plate, but still. I love sharing random acts of kindness, especially when it happens like this, as Harbaugh did it in secret and no one knew until they went to pay.
— OK, my better half would be mad at me for sharing this, but I'm so proud my buttons are busting. That is if I ever wore a shirt that had buttons since, you know COVID. Anywell, remember when the Mrs. 5-at-10 caught that snowy owl photo earlier this year and it was completely awesome in its awesomeness? Well, she decided to sell prints and canvases of those photos and donate all the proceeds to the Tennessee Aquarium. The response was great, and this morning she took them a check for $3,300. How cool is that? Yep, married so far above my head my nose bled for the first three years. War snowy owls, and War Kathleen.
Which way Wednesday will start this way:
Which word would you use to describe Tiger Woods' career?
Does anyone else fall into the rabbit hole of random names trending on Twitter? I know I do, and Wednesday morning George Carlin was among them. I clicked on his name and a very interesting question made Carlin a popular Twitter topic. Which famous dead person would have the best Twitter account if they were still alive? Carlin is a great nomination. Mark Twain is too. Thoughts?
Which Falcons player has been better, Ryan or Jones?
Of course, feel free to offer which of the Ali-Pele-Tiger-MJ all-time, all-sports stars needs to be replaced. (And this is about star power more than GOAT, because I believe Jack's career > Tiger's, but the star power is not even close.)
On this day, Feb. 24, let's review.
Also, on this day in 1980, Herb Brooks' boys won the gold medal. Salute.
Hey, Billy Zane is 55 today. Zane in Titanic is a top-five punchable movie character, right? Has to be there.
Rushmore of movie characters you want to deck. Go, and remember the mailbag.