Traditionally, when football starts, golf on CBS is over for the year, and I can feign serious illness in order to avoid leaving my house except for occasional miraculous periods of remission, which have a curious tendency to coincide with hunting trips for wounded soldiers from my Troops First Foundation. In all honesty, I get up from my sick bed to go with these guys, because in comparison to their injuries, my seasonal malaise seems insignificant. So, I man up and make the sacrifice.
But this year’s off-season was oddly different. I was self-possessed, consumed with worry about the direction in which I want my career to go, because the 31st of December marked the end of my last contract with CBS, for whom I’ve worked for the past 14 years. In that time I have found out a lot about myself, forgotten a lot about others, and for the first time grown to love what I do for a living. I am more than fond of everyone at CBS, too, from Les Moonves, Sean McManus, and the rest of the suits at the mothership in New York, to my producer Lance Barrow and his production crew, to my homeys on the announce crews. All of them, as well as every single one of our smelly technicians, have looked after me through depression, addiction and health (mostly the first two, actually), and to their eternal credit, they have always closed ranks in front of me any time I’ve said something either stupid or intelligent enough to upset the politically correct pack of media hyenas that these days surrounds the world of news, sports and entertainment, waiting to pounce on any sordid scrap that takes a bad bounce off the broadcast buffet table.
I spent 20 years playing golf in order to be able to pay my bills, and only when I quit to become a broadcaster and writer did I realize that it had just been a job to me. As I recall, I liked playing golf, but it turned out to be a means to an end — an end that came sooner than I expected. After last season I felt a strange undercurrent, a familiar unease that always invades my space shortly after I have become, for want of a better word, established. I was comfortable doing what I do, and for me, Comfortsville is a dangerous little facade of a town, a delusional rest area on a downhill road toward the vast, steaming pile of social, professional and emotional crap that is Confidentropolis. Confidence has been that warm, fuzzy feeling I usually get right before I fall on my ass, but at least now I feel it coming. Twenty years ago I was majestically — no, epically — unaware, and at one time I actually ran for mayor of Confidentropolis, but was narrowly beaten by a man called Rod Bad-Dogovich. Or something.
I don’t need to endorse pistachios — that’s not what I’m trying to say here. Not that I wouldn’t for the right price, but I’d like to do something other than follow the leaders of a golf tournament and make razor-sharp observations in between short naps and involuntary outbursts of flatulence, that’s all. I want to make my own TV, and not just golf stuff. I want to tackle unimportant and deeply irrelevant social issues, like where the hell is the Scottish Open trophy I lost 20 years ago in a drunken two-day bender that included someone from Led Zeppelin, and, now that I think of it, do I remember a small farmyard animal?
I should move on…but it’s the oldest trophy in professional sports, and no one knows where it is? Really? I need to go find the damn thing, and take a camera with me.
These days everyone has a top-ten list, and I want to know who the top ten A-holes in the history of sports are, and if any of them are man or woman enough to appear on a show called, “The Top Ten A-holes in the History of Sports.” I have so many ideas and such a small brain (although it’s big enough not to share the really good ones right here) that space is an issue, and with each passing day I know that TV gold flies out of my ears into the ether, never to make air.
For a long time I had no idea for which network I would work this year, or indeed if, after reading this, any of them will now touch me with a pair of Eliot Spitzer’s underpants. There you go — you see, that stuff’s probably not going to work, although the last time I checked, even Eliot Spitzer has managed to get a damn TV show. Help me out on that one, somebody. Ohhh, the humanity!
Maybe I need a hooker, or a collapsed Ponzi scheme, or both. Then again, no matter what I do, I will always be Executively Produced by She Who Must Be Obeyed, so stuff like that won’t be happening. Just stay tuned, friends, because as it turns out I’ll be back on CBS, hosting my own show on the Golf Channel, and hopefully annoying someone somewhere. Like McCord’s underwear, some things never change, and the thought of that makes me uncomfortable. Which, apparently, is a good thing.