Andrew Luck’s Sudden Retirement From Football

The 29 year old Indianapolis Colts quarterback making $35m/year suddenly retired Saturday. Everyone is shocked, including me, but for a different reason than most.

Over his injury riddled career, the Stanford grad made $100m on the field and lots more off of it. If Luck earns 4% on 150m he’ll have $6m a year to decide how to spend the rest of his life. He should be okay especially since he’s said he is going to make Indianapolis home.

What’s most shocking about his retirement is that it’s not more common. I don’t understand why more elite players who have made $10m+ don’t quit before their brains and bodies begin breaking down.

Scientists know football players are at risk from Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE), a neurodegenerative disease caused by repeated head injuries. These are 25 year olds who have another 50-75 to go. Professional football players keep getting larger and faster. Playing professional football is often compared to getting in a car crash every Sunday.

The Colts owner says Luck is passing up $450m in future salary. So what. What is the value of one’s brain and body?

How much money is enough, $150 million no doubt, but why not $5m? Spend and invest smartly and watch it grow over time. Why aren’t many more players heading for the exits. Why isn’t Chris Borland the model?

Early during Sunday’s training ride, six cycling friends and I buzzed Tumwater High School. Cars lined both sides of the street for half a mile. Pop Warner junior football is alive and well in Tumwater, WA. Which I find perplexing.

It makes perfect sense that parents want their children to play sports, but why choose the one where one’s health is most likely to be compromised. Tradition?

Why choose football when there are innumerable safer options? Case in point. You may have missed it, but Sunday in Atlanta Rory McIlroy made $15m by winning professional golf’s final playoff tournament. Hitting a golf ball, not being hit. Don’t expect him to retire anytime soon.

 

 

A Little Lost This Morning

The Open Championship is over. Final rest day at the Tour de France.

The Open Championship is the best golf tournament in the world. Way more inclusive than the other three majors. Way more authentic than the Masters. I love seeing the players sporting winter hats, with the sideways rain, playing from hellish pot bunkers and gorse. Port Rush Ireland is one of the more beautiful settings for golf I’ve ever seen. It boggles my mind that fewer than 2m people live in North Ireland and 237,000 watched the Championship live.

Irish passion for golf was evident in Rory’s Friday charge, all the Irish player’s comments, and Lowry’s 63 on Saturday. Professional golf doesn’t get any better than that. Only wish I had been there.

And the outcome of le Tour is still up in the air after two weeks. Given the weakness of his team, I do not think 2 minutes is enough of a cushion for Alaphilippe. Of course, we’ll probably have to wait 8 years to determine the winner.

Thanks to this movie preview, which gave me an Open Championship like jolt of joy, I think I’ll be okay today.

Lost in Tiger’s Masters Victory

Understandably, all of the post tourney press is about Tiger’s comeback from professional golf oblivion. Best comeback in the history of sports many argue.

But just like a year ago, when the University of Virginia basketball team became the first #1 seed to lose to a #16 seed in the NCAA tournament, many no doubt missed Francesco Molinari’s master class in gracious losing.

A year ago, after the unlikeliest of defeats, Tony Bennett:

And Sunday afternoon in Augusta, Georgia, Francesco Molinari, taking a page from Bennett’s book:

“I think I made some new fans today with those two double bogeys.” Best runner up interview and line ever. If only all of us were half as centered. As with Bennett, look for Molinari in green sometime soon.

Postscript: How does one explain how Molinari could so surgically make his way around Augusta for 65 holes, then suddenly, as they sometimes say, throw up all over himself? My theory is it had nothing to do with bad swings or Tiger’s death stare, it’s that he could only hold off the weight of the spectators (spare me the “patron” bullshit) for so long. He wasn’t just battling Tiger and numerous other Americans, he was fighting the legion of Tiger fans. How dare anyone, let alone a foreign player, spoil the ending! An empty course and the two stroke cushion he began with is enough to hold Tiger off. Tiger, in other words, owes his victory to the multitudes.

Ryder Cup 2018

I slipped out of bed early Sunday morning and tiptoed downstairs in the pitch black to fire up the TIVO which had dutifully recorded the first few hours of the Ryder Cup singles matches in Paris, France.

First rule of the Ryder Cup, one must watch on tape because the pace of play is twice as slow as normal. Not to mention the steady stream of commercials.

Sports are a great diversion from more depressing matters such as the state of our (dis)union and Supreme Court.

I was rooting for the red, white, and blue, but they got clobbered. The damage was mostly done on Saturday. Sunday was perfunctory. The loss was no big deal because as I tweeted to a golf writer, I’ll take unadulterated joy over random nationalism every day of the week.

The paradoxes are so layered as to be humorous. Many of the Euros played college golf in the U.S. and have homes in the U.S. where they play on the PGA tour full time. At best, like some of their long irons, they’re Euro-American hybrids. Many of the U.S. players’ grandparents and great grandparents are from Europe. And when you have class personified in guys like Francesco Molinari (Italy) on one side and asses like Patrick Reed (USA) on the other, who really cares who wins. Just relish the drama.

And really relish the victory celebration, especially if the Euros win. Unadulterated joy. They care about it way more than the Americans. Tiger was so bored he somehow put on rain pants. DJ and Koepka, too cool to care. Phil, seemingly past his expiration date.

The simplistic analysis is that the American’s edge in power and talent is offset by their relative individualism and materialism (players don’t receive any money other than large contributions to the charity of their choice). Sometimes the conventional wisdom is right.

Others say the deciding factors were the course set up which deprived the Americans of their power advantage, Furyk’s incompetence as bossman, and the hectic September playoff schedule. On the U.S. side, the Ryder Cup is like the Senate, time for a serious turnover. Time to tag in Xander Schauffele, Patrick Cantlay, Kyle Stanley and other younger, hungrier guns by 2020 in Wisconsin. And if asked, yes, I will coach.

See the Euros’ passion for the Cup and team camaraderie for yourself.

 

Monday Assorted Links

1. Michigan’s sixth man is easy to root for.

2. Some headlines are better than others.

3. American adults just keep getting fatter.

My brother and his partner, as I learned last week, walk 1 mile around their block every night without fail, right after dinner, without even picking up the kitchen.

4. Props to Bill and Melinda for acknowledging that teacher evaluation efforts haven’t shown results.

5. The worst part of Trump’s presidency so far.

 

Really Good Writing

I always appreciate really good writing, but sometimes get frustrated when uniquely talented writers write exclusively about relatively unimportant things. Take Alan Shipnuck, a fellow Bruin, who writes really well about . . . all things golf. Dig his description of TWood’s bottoming out in 2015:

“He developed a palpable stage-fright, the nadir coming on his first hole at the British Open, on the Old Course, site of some of his greatest triumphs. On the tee, wielding a mid-iron, he hit it so fat the gouge that was left behind became a macabre monument to a lost genius.”

Maybe not Pulitzer-worthy, but describing the divot as a “macabre monument to a lost genius” is, if I do say so myself, genius.

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