This is tough for me. I try to leave my opinions out of things and just transcribe interviews for you all to form your own judgments. I’ll provide my understanding of the context when necessary, but usually I get it that you don’t care what I have to say. But in this instance, an interview given by John Daly on Wednesday, I better speak up. Because a lot of what I took from Daly’s interview came from my own ‘reading between the lines.’ First of all, let’s get this out of the way real quick — Daly began the interview fielding questions about his relationship with Ryan Mallett, the Arkansas Razorbacks QB that is hoping to hear his name called on Thursday night during the first round of the 2011 NFL Draft, and Jon Gruden, the former Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach that Daly has gotten to know over the years and recently gotten quite close to. Interesting start to the interview. But it gets even better when Daly mentions Tiger Woods’ name in one of his final questions about Mallett. That opens up a floodgate that carried on for the remainder of the conversation.
Daly does the right thing in not sharing what Woods said to him explicitly when they spoke about what had been going on with Woods’ relationship with ex-wife Elin Nordgren, but Daly says just enough for me to form my own conclusions. They are: Woods wasn’t getting laid enough at home, which in turn led him to explore his curiosities outside the marriage. It’s not clear whether Elin was holding out on him because Tiger was clearly being unfaithful or if her not fulfilling Woods’ desires prompted him to commit adultery. Anyway, what was also interesting was how Daly talked to Woods about how he could have avoided this whole fiasco if he had just gone straight to the media and told them what he had just said to Daly. ‘Long John’ believes — and apparently Tiger agreed at the time when Daly said this — that Woods’ story would have been a one day story rather than a sensationalistic drawn out affair dominating newspaper and tabloid headlines for nearly a year.
Daly joined 790 The Zone in Atlanta to talk about his relationship with Ryan Mallett and Jon Gruden, how those relationships came about, how he and Gruden both learn from each other, why Gruden is a great psychologist and the ultimate motivator for him, what lessons and things he talks to Mallett about as the mercurial quarterback gets set to embark on his NFL career, and then the really good stuff starts. Daly then fields questions and rambles on about Tiger Woods, his talk with him at The PGA last year about what happened two Thanksgivings ago, how he told Tiger that the whole mess he’s had to deal with never would have materialized had he just been candid right away about what was going on in his life, his philosophy on the expectations of sex within marriages, and his reflections about winning majors early in his career, how he then wasted talent with delusions of grandeur in the later years of the ’90s, and how it’s just a matter of finding some confidence and catching a break now that he’s recommitted himself to his game and making better decisions off the golf course.
How many folks have mentioned his recent sit down with Ryan Mallett and Jon Gruden
“It’s been pretty cool. I’ve had a lot of tweets and stuff.”
So how did that come about:
“Well me and Coach Gruden have been friends for quite a long time. We played some golf together, and me residing in Clearwater, Florida, I get to hang out with him a lot. I call him…he’s my new psychologist now.”
On what makes Gruden a better shrink than the laundry list of others he’s seen over the years:
“I know one thing — that man can motivate you. That man’s unbelievable, Coach Gruden is. I miss him coaching, but I think there’s probably not anybody in this world that doesn’t like what he’s doing for Monday Night Football either. He’s awesome.”
On why he feels the need to want to be around Gruden for psychological purposes:
“Because no matter the situation, he’s always positive, he’s always fired up, he’s just a great guy to talk to. Now, I do talk to another guy about a lot of other issues that’s helped me especially this last two or three years. But Coach, he does it to where you get right at first. He doesn’t take any crap from anybody. The way I feel when I talk to him is hey, his time is valuable so I might as well get something out of it. And he’s the same way when I help him with his golf game. Before I went to Hilton Head last week, we played a couple days and I worked with his golf game. And I said, hey, I’m the same way, and that’s why we get along so good. We try to get what we can out of each other. We’re really, really good friends, but we learn from each other.”
On why he has been a part of the mentoring process of Mallett:
“Yeah, no doubt, and I think that’s why Coach wanted me there — not because I love the Razorbacks so much. I’ve gotten to be pretty good friends with Ryan and got to watch him probably, on the sidelines, ten to twelve games. It was just awesome to see him in action. But he’s a good kid, and he’s young and it’s unbelievable how good he is.”
How not having anybody to help him with little things like how to handle the media when he was starting out as a pro golfer played a big role in wanting to help Mallett:
“No doubt. Through the tour, we didn’t start getting media sessions with our rookies and all that stuff until the middle of probably ’94, ’95, ’96. So even when I came out, the Tour didn’t have anything set up for something that I did that fast. I mean, nobody could be ready for it. We didn’t have these meetings to talk and have media specialists come in to help and all that stuff. Where now for Ryan, the NFL has all that stuff; Major League Baseball has all that stuff; hockey has all that; golf has all that. Any major sport professionally, they all have that to help them get through it. And my only thing that hurt me the most was I wish I had thought about the question a little bit more before I answered it. And I think a lot of athletes can relate to that, especially because the media loves to get you when you’re in a bad moment. Like for us, if you have a bad round, they want to talk to you right then because they want to get something out of you that they can use, whether it’s positive or negative. And you know the media today, it’s mainly negative. So my point to him was just be careful with the answers that are being asked of you, and that there’s no time limit on an interview.”
On also taking to Mallett about personal responsibility and how things might have been different for him if he had made better choices:
“Yeah, by some of the answers I might have given and by some of the stupid stuff I did. I mean, I set myself up a lot back in the day to get ridiculed. And I deserved it, because I did some stupid things — whether I quit on the course, walked off, or threw a club, or did something stupid off the golf course — destroy a hotel room or whatever, I mean I’ve done it all. Luckily everything I’ve done was legal; I’ve never done drugs thank God. But you don’t think about things when you’re on top of the world, you don’t think about those type of things. And when I look back I wish I did, because whether it’s one fan, millions of fans, thousands, your peers, the peers that you’re playing with, your teammates, whatever — when you do something bad, it’s going to hurt not only you but someone else. And that takes a lot away from you as an individual. I mean, you can look at what Tiger’s going through. It’s embarrassing. Is he embarrassed? Hell yeah he’s embarrassed. Any time we do something bad we’re embarrassed, but the way I’ve felt good about myself is I’ve always been honest. Whether I’ve done good or bad, I’ve always told the truth. And it gives the media a one-day story instead of a prolonged eight, nine months story that Tiger’s was.”
Has he had the chance to say that to Tiger, and would he if he hasn’t had the chance to?
“I did last year at The PGA. And what we talked about I couldn’t even fathom kind of telling you guys because it’s a personal conversation, but it made me relieved of what Tiger was going through. Do I blame Tiger for what he did, and does he? Yes. But does he have a reason? Yes. And that reason is something I don’t want to talk about. But I told him, ‘if you would have come out that night after the incident and told the world what was going on — not listened to your agents, not listened to anybody else, just what your heart said and thought what you just told me — this story would have ended in one day.’ And he said ‘I know, I know. I just had to listen to everybody.’ I said ‘that’s the thing you’ve got to understand Tiger, you’re the greatest player that’s ever played, you don’t have to listen to anybody, you have to listen to what your heart tells you to do.’ And he says ‘I thought about talking to the media right after it all happened, I really did, and told them the truth and told them what was going on. But I was told not to.’ So, I don’t blame him in that aspect of listening to the bad advice, which I totally think he got throughout the whole situation.”
Wait, is he talking about that first Thanksgiving night, or after when all the sordid details emerged:
“Afterwards, afterwards. I think everything afterwards that everybody found out about.”
So, there was some way to get people to at least partially understand what was going on had he come out and spoken candidly?
“Exactly. I mean, you’re looking at a guy who all the way through his college days, all there was was golf, golf, golf, golf golf. And then there was more golf. And then there was more golf. The guy never had a chance to live a life, and you know, certain things that people go through they find out they like and don’t like. And as a young man or whatever, there’s certain things you like and certain things you don’t like. He found out late what he really liked because he was never around it. He didn’t have a chance to find out what women were like and what girls were like that much until he was in his late teens, late late, almost 20. I don’t think folks realize that.”
But doesn’t everybody lose the right to have sex with others after making the decision to get married?
“Well you should if your wife’s good and makes love to you when you want to be made love to, and does things with you and wants to do things with you, and wants to support you, and wants to be with you in your career, wants to take the selfish side of the player. I mean, in this sport, in major sports no matter what, even a guy that runs a multi-billion dollar corporation — a woman has to understand that it’s a lot on a person’s shoulders to deal with. You can either be a part of it, supportive and keep going, and not go your materialistic ways that I’ve been through. My exes, if you look at my life, they just quit supporting me. Plus, they didn’t want to have sex anymore. And when that happens — and I’ve always been straight up front with every one of them — I said ‘if you’re not going to give it to me, I am going to go get it somewhere else.’ And that’s just the way I’ve been whether there’s a ring on my finger or not. Is that adultery? Maybe so, but from what I understand, when you’re married they’re supposed to give it to you.”
So Woods should have gone up to a podium and said ‘I’m not getting it anymore, I’ve had enough’:
“Exactly. That’s what I did.”
And that would have kept the story from blowing up into the media circus that it became?
“I think so. You wouldn’t have had 127 or 128 women come out and say they had sex with Tiger. I mean, if people really believe that Tiger had sex with 127, then we’re not really as smart or common sense as we think we are. I mean, come on.”
If he felt like he threw away some of his natural and talent:
“I think in the ’90s, I really wasted my talent. Because I had won two majors already, and you sit there thinking about getting to 18 majors and tying Nicklaus. And I think just winning those two was so tough, I’m going ‘I don’t think I can get to Nicklaus’ record. And then when you see Tiger coming out, and by then I think he had won….right around 2002 I think he had won like 8, 10, somewhere in there. It made me realize that I’m in a sport where, hey, if I get my crap together and start working on my game and doing better, there’s a chance I can win some more golf tournaments. So I’m definitely committed again. I’ve been sober almost two and a half years now, lost 130 pounds. So I’m on the right track. Now it’s just a matter of finding the confidence after the bad injuries in ’07 from a flash camera that tore my shoulder and my ribs up. I’ve just got to find the confidence, I’m doing everything else right.”