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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The Texans should swing for the fences. Composite image by Jack Brame.

With each passing day, the Deshaun drama thickens. It's progressed to Mayor Sylvester Turner tweeting, basically humbling himself to Deshaun.

A city that a few short weeks ago offered up mega star power across the board, has now seen James Harden, Russell Westbrook, and George Springer all depart for a variety of reasons. The impact of Deshaun leaving would be irreversible guaranteeing the Texans resting comfortably in the bottom of the AFC South for the next decade, wallowing in futility.

The saga will only intensify in two weeks should Patrick Mahomes collect another Lombard Trophy. As 2017 draft class contemporaries, Deshaun is comparing his career to #15. Another ring would place Mahomes up 2-0 in that discussion with Watson.

Perhaps the Texans should take a play from the Oilers playbook and inquire on Dabo Swinney. In the pursuit of securing the services of Warren Moon, the Oilers made a power play and secured the services of Moon's former CFL coach, Hugh Campbell. I've attended several luncheons and engagements in which Deshaun served as the keynote speaker. In many of those venues, a short video presentation would include personal greetings and feel good overtures directed to Deshaun from Dabo. The end result was Deshaun lighting up like a Christmas tree. There's a viable relationship in place there.

At the end of the day, Deshaun is a competitor. Losing DeAndre Hopkins was a major loss, but not to the degree that you might think. Deshaun still went out and threw for over 4,000 yards this season, and with a sub-par supporting cast, even pulling guys off of the practice squad in late December contests to fill out the receiving corps. The issue for Watson is trust, and culture. Hence, the recent headlines surrounding the Jets as a future home make very little sense. The Jets in 4 of their last 5 seasons have had double-digit losing seasons. Until the recent resurgence of the Browns, the Jets far and away have held the title of the "laughingstock" of the NFL.

The biggest challenge for the Texans is who could persuade Deshaun to stay? Could team President Jamey Rootes calm down the noise? It certainly won't come from Texans Ring of Honor recipient Andre Johnson. If I were Cal McNair, I would place a call to 105 Sikes Hall in Clemson, SC and ask for Dabo's office. That's as good of a place to start as any other.

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