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Tiger’s Cursed Life Takes Another Tragic Tumble

If Woods somehow survived a crash that would have killed most of us — in another SUV, no less — devastating leg injuries mean his competitive golf career likely is over, closing a dramatic and fateful chapter in history.

Jay Mariotti

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His life, apparently, is doomed to perpetual tragedy. What should have been the concluding scene of the Tiger Woods biopic — his inspirational return from the golfing dead at Augusta National — has slipped again into abject hell just two years later. The gods of darkness refuse to grant relief and allow peace.

Instead, on a Tuesday morning near the southern California suburb where he learned to play, Woods survived a crash that would have killed most of us but suffered crush injuries to both lower legs, including a compound fracture and shattered ankle. Meaning, he faces a future of disability if muscles and nerves are irreversibly damaged. Never mind golf. The question is how and when he’ll walk again, which was becoming a difficult chore as it was.

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For the record, he was wearing a seat belt. If not, he likely would be dead.

On a curvy stretch of road known for accidents and high speeds, Woods had to be extricated from his mid-sized SUV after the vehicle: (1) struck a median; (2) wiped out a “Welcome to Rolling Hills Estates” sign; (3) crossed two lanes; (4) rammed into a curb; (5) thrashed through trees; and (6) rolled over multiple times, somehow avoiding a telephone pole before landing in the steep hillside brush about a par-5 fairway from the pavement. With airbags activated, rescue personnel had to remove Woods through the windshield with an ax and pry bar and place him in an ambulance before several hours of surgery.

Stunt doubles wouldn’t have lived. Tiger Woods, cat that he is, must have nine lives.

“I will say that it’s very fortunate Mr. Woods was able to come out of this alive,” said Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy Carlos Gonzalez, the first responder at the crash scene.

We are thankful that Tiger, the human being, survived. The same survival won’t be possible for Tiger, the golfing legend, or, for that matter, the sport he popularized like no one else. If he seemed larger than life in completing a full-circle comeback at the Masters, this disaster is beyond the realm of miracles, ending a competitive career already in peril after a fifth microdiscectomy surgery on his back in December. All as the world asks, cruelly but fairly: Was Woods of clear mind just past 7 a.m. in Rancho Palos Verdes, where he was leaving his resort hotel and driving to a country club for a photo/video shoot? And doing so, said L.A. County Sheriff Alex Villanueva, at a “relatively greater speed than normal” while driving down a hill?

Authorities say there was no evidence of impairment, such as the opioids found in his system almost four years ago, the last time he was investigated at roadside. Said Gonzalez: “I spoke to him. I asked him what his name was. He told me his name was Tiger, and at that moment, I immediately recognized him.  I asked him if he knew where he was, the time of day. He seemed lucid and calm.” There will be toxicology tests because there have to be. Not until we scan the results will we know if Tiger Woods was just another reckless driver or someone who continues to have a serious problem.

This is not how it should end for the man who revolutionized his sport and produced, for a decade’s stretch, the best golf ever played. At Christmas, he never looked happier as he played a family tournament with his 11-year-old son, Charlie, whose fist-pumps, club-twirls and matching blood-red shirt evoked stunning images of his old man. “I don’t really care about my game. I’m just making sure Charlie has the time of his life,” he said. “And he’s doing that.”

But Tiger Woods’ life obviously wasn’t meant to be a fairy tale. The creepy reality can’t be avoided: Each of his pitfalls happened when behind the wheel of an SUV, leading to viral moments that have made him the most scandalous sports figure of the social media age. His legendary contemporaries in the 21st century — Tom Brady and LeBron James — generally have led the idyllic lives of kings. Woods continues to be a breaking news bulletin first, an 82-time champion second.

November 2009. His phony facade, which produced an endorsement fortune baed on a family-man image, was rocked when he crashed his SUV into a fire hydrant outside his Florida mansion. He was unconscious for more than five minutes before his soon-to-be-ex-wife, Elin, smashed in a window with a golf club and removed him from his seat. Soon, Woods was in a Mississippi clinic for sex addiction after a string of extramarital affairs with his bimbo brigade.

May 2017. Reliant on prescription opioids after numerous surgeries on his back and knees, Woods was charged with driving under the influence when arrested in the wee hours, answering “Orange County” when police in Jupiter, Fla., asked his whereabouts. He soon entered rehab for opioids and a sleep disorder, the first step in a stirring, storybook process that led him to claim his 15th major title — after 10 agonizing years of misses and failing health — on an unforgettable Sunday at The Masters.

February 2021. Prayers up.

“I’m sick to my stomach,” said Justin Thomas, one of Woods’s close friends in the sport. “Man, I just hope he’s all right. Just worry for his kids, you know. I’m sure they’re struggling.”

2019 Presidents Cup: TT Postscript: Tiger Woods, Justin Thomas 'go get  that' opening point for U.S. in dominant win | Golf Channel

“We are all pulling for you, Tiger,” tweeted longtime rival Phil Mickelson. “We are so sorry that you and your family are going through this tough time. Everyone hopes and prays for your full and speedy recovery.”

If life were fair, Woods would have kept strolling in that fifth green jacket forevermore — contending for more majors, captaining the U.S. Ryder Cup team, performing humanitarian work and hosting his PGA Tour event up the freeway in Pacific Palisades, the Genesis Invitational, where he had spent the final round Sunday (and picked up the Genesis SUV he was driving Tuesday). But in a CBS interview, something was amiss. Jim Nantz, like the rest of us, wanted to know if Woods would be at Augusta in April. He wouldn’t commit.

“God I hope so. I gotta get there first,” he said. “A lot of it is based on my surgeons and doctors and therapist and making sure I do it correctly. This is the only back I’ve got. I don’t have much wiggle room left here.”

Did he have a timetable? “I don’t know what the plan is,” Woods said.

“We miss you,” Nantz said, as only Nantz can.

Less than 48 hours later, we almost lost him.

“Barbara and I just heard about Tiger’s accident, and like everyone else, we are deeply concerned,” tweeted Jack Nicklaus, the only man with more major championships than Woods. “We want to offer him our heartfelt support and prayers at this difficult time. Please join us in wishing Tiger a successful surgery and all the best for a full recovery.”

Said PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan: “On behalf of the Tour and our players, Tiger is in our prayers and will have our full support as he recovers.”

Said Augusta National chairman Fred Ridley: “Tiger Woods is part of the Augusta National family, and news of his accident is upsetting to all of us. We pray for him, for his full recovery and for his family during this difficult time.”

As someone who traveled the world to cover many of Woods’ majors and victories, I can say the ride was as thrilling as chronicling the Michael Jordan dynasty. But if Jordan dealt with tragedy of his own, such as his father’s still-mysterious murder, his career never was derailed by drama and injuries while mostly avoiding fallout from his gambling misdeeds. Tiger’s wounds have been self-inflicted and damaging, costing him a chance to surpass Nicklaus’ record of 18 major titles. Why was he carousing in Vegas and New York? Why was he driving after an opioid cocktail?

And why was he speeding in Rancho Palos Verdes, for no good reason? Why was he pushing his luck, again, after luck always has pushed back?

When his father turned loose his prodigy in 1996, he predicted a massive effect on humankind. Proclaimed the Earl of Woods: “Tiger will do more than any other man in history to change the course of humanity. … I don’t know exactly what form this will take, but he is the Chosen One. He’ll have the power to impact nations. Not people. Nations.”

Earl Woods predicted Tiger Woods would win 14 majors – CBS Local Sports

That day, a curse was born.

Will it ever have mercy on Eldrick Woods?

BSM Writers

Jason Barrett Podcast – Terry Dugan & Adam Delevitt, BetRivers

Jason Barrett

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Sportsbooks are creating their own media now, and no company is doing that using more guys that have made their names on sports radio than BetRivers. Terry Dugan & Adam Delevitt talk about the strategy behind that decision for today and for the future.

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Joe Rogan Betting Admission Reveals Gray Area

Rogan’s admission raises a question as to just how ethical it is to place bets with insider information, and whether it should be legal or not.

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Joe Rogan

For nearly a decade, I’ve been fortunate enough to cover the football and basketball programs for the University of Kentucky in some form or fashion. Whether writing for blogs or working with ESPN Louisville as co-host of the post-game show, I’ve gotten to know people around the program I grew up supporting, and other individuals in the media doing the same. I’ve made some terrific friendships and cultivated quite a few relationships that provide me with “inside information” about the teams.

As an avid sports bettor, that information has sometimes put me into some difficult personal situations. There have been times when I’ve been alerted to player news that wasn’t public, such as a player dealing with an injury or suspension. It’s often been told to me off-the-record, and I’ve never put that information out publicly or given it to others.

I wish I could also say I’ve never placed a wager based on that information, but that would be a lie. While it’s been a long time since I’ve done so, I’ve ventured into that ethical gray area of betting on a team that I’m covering. I’ve long felt uncomfortable doing so, and I’d say it’s been a few years since I last did it.

At least I know I’m not alone. On his latest episode of The Joe Rogan Experience, Rogan told guest Bert Kreischer that earlier in his UFC broadcasting career he regularly bet on fights. He claims to have won nearly 85% of the time (which I highly doubt but that’s another discussion for another time), either via bets he made or ones he gave to a business partner to place on his behalf.

From his comments, Rogan doesn’t seem to have been using sensitive information to gain an edge with the books, but he also didn’t state that he didn’t. He indicates that much of his success stemmed from knowing quite a bit more about fighters coming from overseas, and he said he “knew who they were and I would gamble on them.”

But Rogan undoubtedly has long been in a position where he knows which fighters might be dealing with a slight injury, or who are struggling in camp with a specific fighting style. It’s unavoidable for someone whose job puts him into contact with individuals who tell him things off-the-record and divulge details without perhaps even realizing it.

But let’s say Rogan did get that information, and did use it, and was still doing so today. The fact is…there’s nothing illegal about it, not in the United States at least. While it’s against the rules of some entities — the NFL, for example, has stated they could suspend or ban for life individuals who use inside information or provide it to others — it’s not against any established legal doctrine. Unlike playing the stock market, insider betting is not regulated by any central body or by the government.

However, Rogan’s admission raises a question as to just how ethical it is to place bets with insider information, and whether it should be legal or not. Many of the after-the-fact actions that have been taken in the realm of legalized sports betting in this country, or those being discussed currently (such as advertising limitations), fall in line with changes made in Great Britain following their legalization.

One of their big changes was making it illegal to utilize insider information, with very specific definitions about the “misuse of information” and what steps the Gambling Commission may take. It lays out what information can be used, the punishments that may be levied, and at what point it might venture into criminality.

Sportsbooks do have recourse in some instances to recoup money on insider betting, but not many. If they can prove that a wage was influenced, they can cancel the bet or sue for the money. The most well-known instance is the individual who bet $50,000 at +750 odds that someone would streak on the field during Super Bowl LV –which he did– and then was denied the payout when he bragged about his exploits. But unless someone foolishly tells the books that they’ve taken them with information that the public wasn’t privy to, they have little to no chance of doing anything about it.

There are ramifications to insider betting that raise truly ethical dilemmas. Just like stock trading, information can be immeasurably valuable to those with stakes large enough to change prices. If I’m placing a $20 prop bet with the knowledge that a team’s starting running back might be out for a game, or dealing with an ankle injury, I’m not going to harm anybody else playing that line. But if I give that information to a shark, who places a $20,000 wager on that same line, I’ve now enabled someone to move a line and impact other bettors.

Online sports betting in this country continues to grow, and every day we are reminded that there are still aspects of the space that can feel like the wild west. As individuals in the media, we have to decide personally what our ethical stances are in situations like this. We also have to keep in mind the impact that betting can have on our biases–especially if we’ve bet using inside information. A prime example is Kirk Herbstreit, who won’t even make a pick on College Gameday for games he is going to be doing color commentary for lest he possibly appears biased on the call.

At one end of the spectrum, you have someone like Herbstreit, and on the other end, you have folks like Rogan who, while he no longer does so, was more than happy to not only wager on fights himself but gave the information to others. And in the middle, you have hundreds of people in similar situations, who might lean one way or another or who, like me, may have found themselves on either side of that ethical line.

There is no black or white answer here, nor am I saying there’s necessarily a right or wrong stance for anybody in the sports media industry to take. I would say that each person has to take stock of what they’re comfortable doing, and how they feel about insider information being used. Rogan didn’t break any rules or laws by gambling on the UFC, but his admission to doing so might be the catalyst towards it no longer being accepted.

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Grading How the Networks Handled the Tua Concussion Discussion

Rex Ryan, Rodney Harrison, and Boomer Esiason stood out with their commentary on the Tagovailoa story.

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The major story going into the bulk of Week 4’s NFL action on Sunday was the concussion suffered by Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa in Thursday’s game versus the Cincinnati Bengals.

Amazon’s Thursday Night Football telecast, particularly its halftime show, faced heavy criticism for neglecting to mention that Tagovailoa had been tested for a concussion in his previous game just four days earlier. Additionally, the NFL Players Association called for an investigation into whether or not the league’s concussion protocols were followed properly in evaluating Tagovailoa.

In light of that, how would the Sunday NFL pregame shows address the Tagovailoa concussion situation? Would they better inform viewers by covering the full story, including the Week 3 controversy over whether or not proper protocols were followed?

We watched each of the four prominent pregame shows — ESPN’s Sunday NFL Countdown, Fox NFL Sunday, CBS’s The NFL Today, and NBC’s Football Night in America — to compare how the Tagovailoa story was covered. With the benefit of two extra days to research and report, did the Sunday shows do a better job of informing and engaging viewers?

Here’s how the pregame studio crews performed with what could be the most important NFL story of the year:

Sunday NFL Countdown – ESPN

ESPN’s pregame show is the first to hit the air each Sunday, broadcasting at 10 a.m. ET. So the Sunday NFL Countdown crew had the opportunity to lead the conversation for the day. With a longer, three-hour show and more resources to utilize in covering a story like this, ESPN took full advantage of its position.

The show did not lead off with the Tagovailoa story, opting to lay out Sunday’s schedule, which included an early game in London between the Minnesota Vikings and New Orleans Saints. But the Countdown crew eventually got to issue on everyone’s minds approximately 28 minutes into the program.

Insider Adam Schefter provided the latest on the NFL and NFLPA’s investigation into the matter, particularly the “gross motor instability” Tagovailoa displayed in stumbling on the field and how the Dolphins initially announced that the quarterback had suffered a head injury, but later changed his condition to a back injury.

Schefter added that the NFL and NFLPA were expected to interview Tagovailoa and pass new guidelines for concussion protocols, including that no player displaying “gross motor instability” will be allowed to play. Those new rules could go into effect as early as Week 5.

“This is an epic fail by the NFL,” said Matt Hasselbeck to begin the commentary. “This is an epic fail by the medical staff, epic fail by everybody! Let’s learn from it!”

Perhaps the strongest remarks came from Rex Ryan, who said coaches sometimes need to protect players from themselves.

“I had a simple philosophy as a coach: I treated every player like my son,” Ryan said. “Would you put your son back in that game after you saw that?

“Forget this ‘back and ankle’ BS that we heard about! This is clearly from head trauma! That’s it. I know what it looks like. We all know what it looks like.”

Where Sunday NFL Countdown‘s coverage may have stood out the most was by bringing injury analyst Stephania Bell into the discussion. Bell took a wider view of the story, explaining that concussions had to be treated in the long-term and short-term. Science needs to advance; a definitive diagnostic tool for brain injury doesn’t currently exist. Until then, a more conservative approach has to be taken, holding players out of action more often.

Grade: A. Countdown covered the story thoroughly. But to be fair, it had the most time.

The NFL Today – CBS

CBS’s pregame show led off with the Tagovailoa story, going right to insider Jonathan Jones to report. He cited the key phrase “gross motor instability” as a significant indication of a concussion.

Jones also clarified that the unaffiliated neurotrauma consultant who helped evaluate Tagovailoa made “several mistakes” in consulting with the Dolphins’ team doctor, leading to his dismissal by the NFL and NFLPA.

The most pointed remarks came from Boomer Esiason, who said any insinuation that the Dolphins, head coach Mike McDaniel, or the team medical staff put Tagovailoa back in the game in order to win was “off-base.” Phil Simms added that the concussion experts he spoke with indicated that Tagovailoa could miss four to six weeks with this injury.

Grade: B-. The opinions from the analysts were largely bland. Jones’s reporting stood out.

Fox NFL Sunday

The Fox NFL pregame show also led off with the Tagovailoa story, reviewing the questions surrounding how the quarterback was treated in Week 3 before recapping his injury during Week 4’s game.

Jay Glazer reported on the NFL’s investigation, focusing on whether or not Tagovailoa suffered a concussion in Week 3. And if he did, why was he allowed to play in Week 4? Glazer noted that Tagovailoa could seek a second, maybe a third medical opinion on his injury.

Jimmy Johnson provided the most compelling commentary, sharing his perspective from the coaching side of the situation. He pointed out that when an injured player comes off the field, the coach has no contact with him. The medical team provides an update on whether or not the player can return. In Johnson’s view, Mike McDaniel did nothing wrong in his handling of the matter. He has to trust his medical staff.

Grade: B. Each of the analysts shared stronger opinions, particularly in saying a player failing “the eyeball test” with concussion symptoms should be treated seriously.

Football Night in America – NBC

Sunday Night Football was in a different setting than the other pregame shows, with Maria Taylor, Tony Dungy, and Rodney Harrison broadcasting on-site from Tampa Bay. With that, the show led off by covering the aftermath of Hurricane Ian, its effects on the Tampa area, and how the Buccaneers dealt with the situation during the week.

But after 20 minutes, the show got into the Tagovailoa story with Mike Florio reporting what his peers told viewers earlier in the day regarding pending changes to the NFL’s concussion protocol and “gross motor instability” being used as a major indicator.

Florio emphasized that the NFLPA would ask how Tagovailoa was examined and treated. Was he actually examined for a back injury in Week 3? And if he indeed suffered a back injury, why was he still allowed to play?

When the conversation went back to the on-site crew, Dungy admitted that playing Thursday night games always concerned him when he was a coach. He disclosed that teams playing a Thursday game needed to have a bye the previous week so they didn’t have to deal with a quick, four-day turnaround. That scheduling needs to be addressed for player safety.

But Harrison had the most engaging reaction to the story, coming from his experience as a player. He admitted telling doctors that he was fine when suffering concussion symptoms because he wanted to get back in the game. Knowing that was wrong, Harrison pleaded with current players to stay on the sidelines when hurt because “CTE takes you to a dark place.”

“It’s not worth it. Please take care of yourself,” said Harrison. “Don’t depend on the NFL. Don’t depend on anybody. If something’s wrong with your head, report it.”

Grade: B+. Dungy and Harrison’s views of the matter from their perspective as a coach and player were very compelling.

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