Tiger Woods is a ratings hit... And a dilemma

posted by Steve Bortstein -

Say what you will about Tiger Woods. Trust me, we all have.

He's a cheater.

He cheated on his wife. This much we know. 

There's more than enough suspicion around Woods as to the notion that Woods cheated the game. Whether any of those judgments or so-called decisions can ever be proven to be fact, the court of public opinion has weighed in heavily. 

Twitter is always the first place I turn to for rational, calm, reasonable decision making and thought processes.

The reality is this. Tiger Woods might be poison to some people, and neither I nor anyone else should change that viewpoint. But from a sports fan's perspective, Woods remains an instant and captivating draw.

Word came down yesterday that NBC Television saw a record 5.11 overnight rating on Sunday for its afternoon coverage of the final round of the Valspar Championship.

That overnight rating was the best rating for a non-Major PGA Tour event since the 2013 Players Championship. 

Further, Sunday’s final round was also the best-rated golf telecast (other than The Masters) since the 2015 PGA Championship.

Going back a day, NBC Sports also saw a record 3.26 overnight rating on Saturday for its coverage of the third round. It was the best-rated Round 3 of a PGA Tour event on any broadcast network since 2006 and the best rating for the Valspar tournament in its history -- an eye-popping 181% gain over Round 3 of the event last year.

Why did that happen? Trust me, it wasn't because of third round leader Corey Conners. 

(Yes, I actually had to google his name just to remember who was the third round leader at the Valspar).

While the narrative for the past several years has been that golf needs a new, fresh face to carry it into the next generation, and while golf can look to Jordan Spieth or Rory McIlroy -- who both missed the cut after Friday -- and the number one ranked golfer in the world Dustin Johnson who sat this tourney out, people tuned in on television and came out in droves to see one person. 

Tiger Woods.

We can sit here and pontificate all we want about what that says about sports fans and their priorities, men and their supposed lack of moral decency, or we can simply acknowledge one simple fact.

Love him or hate him, and either emotion is valid to some degree, Tiger Woods is easily one of the most recognizable and compelling figures in the world of sport.

And when Tiger is competing on Sunday, nothing else can.

Pleading the Case for Keenum

Broncos fans, meet Case Keenum.

Case Keenum, meet the Broncos fans.

This isn't gonna go over well.... at all.

Multiple reports are indicating the 30-year-old Keenum, who led the Minnesota Vikings to an 11-3 record as a starter and a berth in the NFC Championship game last season, is prepared to sign a deal to become the newest member of the Broncos.

Keenum was declared a free agent by the Vikings shortly after the conclusion of last season, and word is that Keenum will earn anywhere between $18-20 million a year once his contract goes official, which may happen as early as Wednesday, when the new official year for the league and its member teams begins.

Keenum is a solid, albeit not dynamic playmaker. Keenum has started 40 games (regular season and playoffs) in his NFL career with a record of 21-19. Before joining the Vikings, Keenum bounced around between the Houston Texans and multiple locations with the Rams.

Last season, Keenum took over the starting job in Minnesota in Week 2 and led the Vikings to a division title in the NFC North. During that time, Keenum threw for more than 3500 yards and only seven interceptions as opposed to 22 touchdowns.

Keenum's overall mark of 1 win and 1 loss in the postseason isn't exactly going to woo Broncos fans, who likely had aspirations of securing a contract with Kirk Cousins, or (and I can't even believe I'm typing this) Drew Brees.

But here's the reality, and Broncos fans are going to have to face some sad truths about not only the expectations of this coming season, but also with the idea that Keenum might have been the best option out there.

A glimpse around the rest of the AFC West suggests the pecking order of starting quarterbacks starts with Philip Rivers. That would almost be a no-brainer, but for all of his gaudy stats and the fiery personality he brings to the table, Rivers has a losing record in the postseason, a place he hasn't been since 2013.

Rivers has nearly half as many interceptions as touchdowns in his past four seasons and has been in the league since 2004, so his shelf life also could be a major issue at this point.

Looking to Oakland and quarterback Derek Carr, and while there is a new sheriff in town in northern California, it's also a new offense and a new scheme for the quarterback to learn. That's never easy, and past indications are that head coach Jon Gruden might not be the easiest guy in the world to work for, so let's hold off a bit on the idea that Carr is just going to reach into the magic elixir and turn the Raiders back into something great again.

Then we have Kansas City, who have decided to turn their offense over to second-year quarterback Patrick Mahomes, who has all of one start in an NFL game, a meaningless affair in the season finale against the Broncos.

If the goal for the Broncos is to be competitive in the AFC West, and that should be the goal of any team is to win their division, then Keenum might not be the sexiest option, but it won't overwhelm them from a contract perspective. The Broncos can still make a move for a playmaker with the 5th pick in next month's NFL Draft and can still bide their time on a quarterback prospect like Brock Osweiler, Trevor Siemian or Paxton Lynch. 

Let The Madness Begin

Play-in action for the NCAA Tournament begins tonight in Dayton, Ohio when Long Island University Brooklyn faces Radford, with the winner moving on to face top seeded Villanova in the East region. Then, it’s UCLA taking on St. Bonaventure, with the winner of that game also moving on in the East region to face 5th seeded Florida. Two more play in games will be held tomorrow before the field of 64 teams is complete.   

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