John Daly, who spent some time last week in a North Carolina drunk tank, is worried that Hooters will drop him as a celebrity spokesman. “The world perceives that I passed out at Hooters, that I was thrown out at Hooters,” he told a reporter on Sunday. “They’ll probably have to terminate me because of the negative publicity.”
Maybe they will, maybe they won’t. But you have to wonder how any corporate endorsee could fail to notice Daly’s twenty-year-plus history of public drunkenness, disorderly conduct, domestic disturbances, hospitalizations, withdrawals from tournaments, fines and suspensions. Hooters, in particular, had to know that their tavern environment — a provocative meld of booze and centerfold waitresses — would bring out the worst in Daly.
The truth is, a sober Daly isn’t much better than a blotto Daly when it comes to public relations. During the 1993 U. S. Open at Baltusrol, Long John starred in commercials for Wilson’s “Killer Whale” driver — spots in which he stared into the camera and swore that he owed all his success to the Whale. Wilson’s sales reps were giving each other high-fives until Daly, after hitting a wild drive on live TV, reared back and hurled his club over a fence. Daly’s driver helicoptered an incredible distance — It was longer! — but it was a dismal weekend for Wilson and the Killer Whale.
But that wasn’t half as bad as Daly’s corporate backstab at the 2005 PGA Championship. On that occasion, an angry Daly whacked his golf bag with his Dunlop putter, damaging the club so badly that he had to putt with his lob wedge for seven holes. After the round, however, Daly put the blame squarely on … the people who signed his endorsement checks! “My putter came loose again,” he groused. “That’s happened a few times this year, where the head has fallen off. Dunlop has been trying really hard to make a putter, and it just keeps coming off.”
Having established that the engineers at Dunlop Sports, after nearly a century manufacturing golf and tennis gear, didn’t know how to use epoxy, Daly delivered the coup de grace: “I’ve had it. I’m just going to putt with my L-wedge.”
I’m guessing that Daly didn’t get a performance bonus that week.
But again, why was anybody surprised? We saw this train coming up the tunnel when Mr. Grip It and Rip It was just starting to cash in on his stunning victory at the 1991 PGA Championship. The following June, an inebriated Daly got into an argument with a flight attendant while boarding a Continental flight from Denver to Newark — a dustup that caused him to miss the Buick Classic. Fast forward two months to the PGA Championship at Bellerive, where Daly told CBS’s Jim Nantz that it wasn’t the airline that had told reporters he was drunk. It was tournament officials.
To a startled Nance, Daly added, “I won’t go buy a Buick anymore.”
PGA Tour Commissioner Deane Beman probably gagged on his sandwich. It’s not every day you hear a star golfer launch a boycott of the Tour’s most generous title sponsor.
Sixteen years later, Daly is still up to his old tricks. But there are literally dozens of companies that have not yet signed Long John to an endorsement deal. I’m thinking he’d be a terrific shill for Remington shotguns. Or Fountain powerboats. And don’t forget the Acme Corporation. (Current celebrity endorser: Wile E. Coyote.)
But if you’re the CEO of one of those companies, you might ask yourself if there are places you wouldn’t want your logo to be seen.
Hooters, for example.