Take for example, Michael Jordan. While Jordan was undeniably the best player I’ve ever seen and is regarded by many as the best to ever lace’em up, he was anything but a model citizen off the court. He had his share of extra-marital affairs that ultimately cost him his marriage not to mention the hundreds of thousands he won and lost on illegal gambling ventures, but he knew how to play “the game.”
The game I’m referring to basically boils down to surrounding yourself with image-restoring experts and advisers who can make sure your private affairs stay just that, and if some secrets do leak out, they provide you with a way to come across in the best light possible and move on.
Another person who knows that mega-stardom comes with a hefty price tag is Tiger Woods. Arguably the best golfer ever, Woods might just be more adept off the links than he is on them. Anybody who thinks Tiger is as perfect as he comes across during post-round interviews has never seen him whip a club in frustration or curse out a camera-clicking member of the gallery. But instead of adding fuel to the fire and further tarnish his image after an incident like that, Tiger recalls the tips his advisors have drilled into his head since he was 12, and extinguishes the flames before they spread like a T.O. wildfire.
Tiger’s longtime caddie Stevie Williams recently made some harsh remarks about Woods’ rival Phil Mickelson.
Williams was quoted as saying: “I wouldn’t call Mickelson
a great player, cause I hate the p—k.”
It’s well known that Tiger and Phil aren’t the best of friends and while neither has made that a secret in the past, both are quick to pull out the superlatives when referring to the other and deflect any questions regarding their relationship along the way. In typical Woods fashion, and much like Jordan would do back in the day when asked about his relationships with Bird or Magic, he took the high road and quickly turned what could’ve turned into a media frenzy that would’ve likely been fanned at every PGA stop they participated in and put it out before it spread.
Woods reaction: “I was disappointed to read the comments
attributed to Steve Williams about Phil Mickelson, a player that I respect.
It was inappropriate. The matter has been discussed and dealt with.”
Watch as the ever-present, non-relenting media will try and fan the flames again and again with this one, but also watch how Tiger is always quick to switch the topic back to golf and avoid any further damage. While I’m sure Tiger and Williams giggled behind closed doors about Stevie’s comments, I’m also guessing Williams got a slap on the wrist for his comments.
Maybe in the future Jordan, Woods and a few of the other athletes who “get it” can hold a “Spin Doctoring 101” class and foot-in-the-mouth, speak-before-thinking specialists like T.O., Barry Bonds and Bobby Knight can sign up and learn a few tricks of the trade.
Some guys just get it and others don’t and probably never will.