WATCHING THE GOAT

John Granato: Golf is just fine without him, but who wouldn't want Tiger back on top?

Tigers return will mean a big audience at The Masters Andrew Redington/Getty Images

I have the unfortunate circumstance of working with uninformed slow dullards. We all have our crosses to bear. This is mine. There was an article this week on this  website about how golf is desperate for Tiger Woods to be great again.

Well DUHHHH.

Who wouldn’t want their sport to be led by one of its all time greats? I’m sure David Stern and the NBA hated when Michael Jordan came back and won three more titles or even when he came back as a Wizard. Nope. Wouldn’t want to fill up arenas to watch the GOAT.

Despite his differences with the Patriots do you think Roger Goodell doesn’t love Tom Brady highlighting his Super Bowl week practically every year? Nope. Wouldn’t want people tuning into the big game to see the GOAT do GOAT things.

Those are the comparisons that should be used when talking about Tiger - Brady and Jordan, the greatest of not only their era, of all time. It’s arguable who the greatest golfer of all time is. Thanks to Tiger’s injuries and indiscretions Jack Nicklaus still holds the title but it’s not arguable who the most popular golfer of all time is. That title belongs to Tiger.

Tiger also belongs with names like Jackie Robinson for how he opened doors for people that weren’t allowed to play his sport. He wasn’t the first like Jackie was but he brought more people to golf than any human ever.

He belongs with names like Jesse Owens for walking into an arena where he wasn’t welcome and not only winning but dominating. At some point no matter how bigoted you were you had to admit that that black man was the greatest player on the planet.

He belongs with names like Muhammad Ali for how polarizing and controversial he was. Ali missed a big portion of his career in his prime when he became a conscientious objector to the Vietnam War. Tiger’s pursuits weren’t that noble but this decade basically without him has robbed us of witnessing history.

That’s why having him back this week playing at a level comparable to what we remember is so cool. A buddy of mine is at Augusta and sent me this text. “You would have thought it was the back nine on Sunday if you just saw the gallery today for his practice round. It’s insane.”

Does golf need Tiger? Golf is fine without him. It’s a niche sport. It’s not for everyone but it takes on a much bigger spotlight with Tiger in contention. The ratings prove that. Who knew what The Valspar Championship was a month ago? With Tiger in the hunt it brought millions to the table.

If he contends this week the ratings will probably rival NBA Finals numbers. Is that good for golf? If you’re in the golf business, of course it is. The more people who are interested the more they might want to buy your product.

Does golf need Tiger Woods? No. Golf has been just fine without him. If you’re a golf fan you don’t really care who’s contending. Unheralded names like Trevor Immelman and Charl Schwartzel have won the Masters. They didn’t have to shut down Augusta National because of it.

Does golf want Tiger to compete this week? Of course. It’s like going to see your favorite band and they’re playing your favorite song. It means something to you. You loved that song when you were younger and it brings you back to that time.

Tiger is that 20-year old song now. Where were you 20 years ago when Tiger burst onto the scene and gave us all those great memories? I’m older so I remember 32 years ago when a 46-year old Jack Nicklaus gave me one of my greatest sports memories and won his sixth green jacket.

That’s why people are so excited about this Masters. There’s that outside chance that Tiger could give us another one of those indelible memories. If a Trevor Immelman or Danny Willet or Mike Weir win this week good on them but it’s not something we’ll remember years from now. But if Tiger wins, 32 years from now some obscure writer on some obscure website will remember where he was while Tiger was playing that sweet music one more time.

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Watson was missing from practice again. Photo by Zach Tarrant/HoustonTexans.com.

The Houston Texans had their second day in pads and it was a bright day for a couple of rookies.

1. Deshaun Watson was absent again from practice. Offensive coordinator Tim Kelly explained the team is keeping Watson "engaged" and he has been helpful in the meeting room with the offense.

2. Watson, if Kelly is telling the truth, can absolutely help the quarterbacks with his knowledge. The offense shouldn't be that different, and Watson doesn't have anything against the quarterbacks specifically. It is strange to think Deshaun Watson would be helping the quarterbacks while actively wanting to be playing elsewhere, but Kelly has no reason to lie about Watson's level of engagement.

3. It was Roy Lopez day on Wednesday. The rookie defensive lineman had a sack and is quite the load to handle upfront. Lopez will have to build on these days to earn time on a busy defensive line but if he repeats this day, people will have to beat him out.

4. Rookie wide receiver Nico Collins finds himself open quite a bit. Collins isn't afraid of traffic, though there aren't any real big hits in training camp. Collins' athleticism is very clear and as he grows more, he should earn more opportunities.

5. Brandin Cooks threw his hands up and let out an exasperated sound as Tyrod Taylor found Collins wide open in the middle of the field. Cooks was even more wide open in the end zone, and Taylor didn't see him.

6. Tyrod Taylor's legs will be a weapon in this offense. Taylor doesn't take off in a lot of the drills, but his mobility is apparent. Taylor did run into a sack by defensive lineman Derek Rivers.

7. Veteran wide receiver Chris Conley is extremely athletic and speedy. Conley can get vertical on all the defensive backs. In a pass-catching drill Conley wowed. The drill consisted of a coach wearing a pad and attacking the wideouts on a jump ball. Conley skied, ripped the ball out of the air, and withstood the attack from the coach easily coming down on both feet. Conley would make the team if the season started tomorrow.

8. Tight end Pharaoh Brown had a great catch beating Justin Reid for a touchdown on a pass from Tyrod Taylor. Reid was very upset he lost the rep. Brown was solid last year and he remains one of the better tight ends on the team.

9. Linebacker Neville Hewitt has had some flashes in camp. Hewitt had over 100 tackles for the Jets last year to go along with 12 tackles for a loss over the past two seasons. Hewitt had a hurry on Tuesday and a pass breakup on Wednesday. Hewitt is certainly in consideration for a spot in the revamped linebacker room.

10. Defensive linemen Charles Omenihu and Jonathan Greenard each had sacks in a team period. Omenihu's rep was a forced fumble and Greenard darted through the middle of the line for his successful rep.

11. Tytus Howard had a hold your breath moment when he slowly got off the ground and gingerly walked off the field. Howard had to walk it off, but returned to practice with no issue. He has played a multitude of positions in training camp.

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