Our heroes rarely turn out to be the people we want them to be. There are exceptions, of course, but we see and hear enough in 2014 to know things are more than likely not as they seem. That’s why I give Charles Barkley a lot of credit for coming right out and saying, in no uncertain terms, that he wasn’t a role model. He’s proven himself right on several occasions. That Barkley is a man of his word.
Michael Jordan, however, lived a similar lifestyle to Barkley back then, but he never did that. He never came out and said, “Yeah, so I don’t actually eat Wheaties, because have you fucking tasted them? Also, I gamble a lot and I cheat on my wife. SURPRISE!” In MJ’s position, you’d have to be a moron to say that. So he stayed the course. He kept the hero persona. And he sold a shit load of sneakers, burgers, batteries, cereal, and bacon neck-free t-shirts because of it.
For a long time, Tiger Woods had a similar golden boy image that Jordan carried throughout most of his career (that night in 2009 when his whole world exploded obviously excluded). Sure, Woods was all business on the course, but fans — young ones especially — hoped he would be an affable guy if they ever got a chance to meet him. That’s what we all hope for from our heroes. That’s what Johnny Manziel expected when he ran out onto a mostly-deserted course to get an autograph from Tiger after he finished playing a practice round BY HIMSELF.
That’s not what happened.
Per the December 2014 Golf Digest
Were you a big Tiger fan?
Huge! I had everything Tiger. I wanted to be just like him. I got my dad to get me that Scotty Cameron putter that Tiger used for all of those years. I wanted one exactly like it.
Is the story true about Tiger disappointing you by refusing an autograph request?
[Laughs.] Yeah, that happened. My dad played in a member-guest at Isleworth every year with a friend, and we’d take our family vacation to Orlando. One day I ended up playing with a bunch of kids at the house of Thurman Thomas [Pro Football Hall of Famer], of all people. I think he was friends with some of our family friends. Somehow we heard that Tiger was out playing on a nearby course [The Golden Bear Club at Keene’s Pointe], so another guy and I ran out there looking for him.
Were there other people out there watching him?
No, it was a really quiet day. Tiger was playing a practice round all by himself.
How old were you?
About 9 or 10. At that time, Derek Jeter and Tiger Woods were the biggest people in the sports world—in my sports world, anyway. We saw Tiger on the 16th hole and asked for his autograph, and he said to catch him right after the round. I was sitting about 100 yards from the 18th green, and he drove by in a cart and was pulling his hat really, really low. I remember him saying, “No autographs today.”
To Manziel’s credit, he doesn’t hold much, if any, animosity towards Woods. Although he admits in the Golf Digest interview that he was bitter at Woods for about a day and that up until now, the best day of his life was when Woods was outed as a huge philanderer and his life was momentarily ruined.
Ok, I made up that last part.
[H/T Golf Digest]