Opinions rain down today like a deluge of arrows.
With so many tweets and blogs and so much talk-radio and TV blather, sometimes it seems as if we’re navigating through a fog of bombast.
The world has never been noisier.
So we welcome those voices incisive enough to pierce the murk.
We value analysis that makes sense.
We appreciate smart, unvarnished truth cutting through all the crap.
And it’s a real bonus when it’s coming from athletes themselves.
Who knew Pat Perez would become one of those voices as a radio talk show host?
Perez’s take on Tiger Woods’ predicament withdrawing from the Genesis Open and the Honda Classic made a lot of headlines last week.
While this isn’t all that Perez said about Tiger, here’s one of the stronger perspectives replayed from Perez’s SiriusXM PGA Tour Radio Show:
“He knows he can’t beat anybody. But what he does, he’s got this new corporation that he’s started so he’s got to keep his name relevant to keep the corporation going. So he’s going to show up to a few events, he’s going to try to play, he’s going to show . . . the Monster bag, he’s going to show the TaylorMade driver, he’s going to get on TV. He’s got the Nike clothes. He’s got to keep that stuff relevant.”
There’s insightful context in that.
Yes, it is opinion, but it’s insight from a PGA Tour pro who likes and respects Tiger and has been playing against him since they were juniors. If Perez’s take is not dead on, he at least frames the external pressures Woods is likely facing, and he does so in real, practical terms.
It’s not, as Brandel Chamblee wrote Sunday in another space on this website, that golf needs an infusion of honesty. It’s not that the sport needs players to be as brash and colorful as Crash Davis or that it needs athletes to be able to explain their genius.
It’s just a damn delight when they aren’t Nuke LaLoosh, and it’s good for the sport when they can explain their genius.
It’s a bonus.
And who says it is fantasy to expect players to be able to do that?
We’ve had that for a long time in Phil Mickelson. We’ve also got it now in Jordan Spieth, Rory McIlroy and Jason Day.
Perez also showed up last week as a bonus.
Woods’ fans acted as if Perez launched a personal assault. So much so that Perez felt the need to clarify his remarks, to explain that he’s usually the guy who defends Woods.
Perez wasn’t talking about immigration policy or Russian manipulation of elections. He was talking golf. It’s sport, entertainment, and Perez’s insight adds to our understanding of what Woods may be facing. Perez broadens and deepens the context of Woods’ last chapter as a player. Perez’s words strengthen the storytelling, and that’s good for the game.
Why bring athletes into the media center if the nature of their opinions don’t really matter?
Why set up interviews if storytelling doesn’t fuel interest in the game?
And I didn’t hear hypocrisy in Perez saying Woods may be playing to keep his brand relevant, because I never heard Perez say he wouldn’t do the same thing given the same circumstances.
Anyone who thought Perez was too harsh is probably fearful of how Tiger’s reacting, and that is what made Perez’s opinion all the more admirable.
There was no fear holding Perez back, and that’s why I wish Perez hadn’t bothered trying to clarify what he said.
Fear stifles truth in this business.
What Perez said about corporate complications is understood in the golf world as a potential issue in how Woods progresses from here, but Perez was the guy with the nerve to say it.
Did Tiger withdraw in Dubai because he knew he couldn’t beat anybody after shooting 77? It’s pretty clear it was all about the pain, and also the knowing he can’t win trying to beat anyone when his back’s not right.
Perez may not always hit the target with his arrows in his radio show, but here’s hoping he doesn’t put his quiver away. I like his aim.