Saturday Sports: Tiger Woods And Eli Manning

Dec 2, 2017
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SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

And now it's time for sports.

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SIMON: Eli Manning's streak of consecutive games is scheduled to come to an end tomorrow. But in golf, Tiger Woods might be back again. NPR sports correspondent Tom Goldman joins us. Tom, thanks so much for being with us.

TOM GOLDMAN, BYLINE: Scott, thanks for having me.

SIMON: (Laughter) And Tiger's looking like he can play golf again, isn't he?

GOLDMAN: You know, he certainly doesn't look like a nearly 42-year-old man returning from his fourth back surgery. In his first competitive golf in almost a year, he has shot two straight rounds in the 60s. He's swinging free and hard. He's hitting the ball far. He's chipping and putting. It looks solid. Granted, Scott, this tournament he's playing in is a nice, little cushy event hosted by him in the Bahamas. It only has 18 players, although many of them are the world's top-ranked guys.

SIMON: It's his own - he's hosting his own event? Surely, that's stacking the deck, isn't it? But go ahead. Yeah?

GOLDMAN: (Laughter) No, no, no. I mean, everyone has a shot. There is no cut after two rounds, so it's not the pressure cooker of a regular PGA Tour event. But he led for a time Friday. Going into today, he was five shots behind the leader. And Tiger Mania (ph) is growing. There's so many people who are so eager to see him do magical things on the golf course again.

SIMON: He's had a lot of back trouble, as you note - four surgeries - and, to be sure, personal trouble, much of his own making. But he's only 41, 42. He could have some very strong years - tricky as backs are - couldn't he?

GOLDMAN: Yeah. Well, he could. You know, a few. Backs are very tricky, especially with violent torquing golf swings like Tiger's. And we should note that he played this event last year. He did really well - raised expectations like he is now. And then in a couple of events after that, his back deserted him. He did play golf for nine straight days before this event began to get his back and his body and his mind ready. After two really good rounds, the back appears to be holding up. He said he took some Advil during the round yesterday not because he was hurting but because of his surgeon's orders. So we shall see. If he can stay healthy, 2018 could be a fascinating year on the Tour.

SIMON: Yeah. Eli Manning doesn't start tomorrow - New York Giants against the Oakland Raiders - ending a streak of 210 regular season games at that number. Now, the Jints have had a miserable season, but is Eli Manning the reason?

GOLDMAN: Well, he's not the entire reason. It's always - you know, it's a team failure. But yeah. You look at a few key stats, and Manning doesn't appear to be the guy who led the Giants to two Super Bowl titles in the last nine years. You know, perhaps it was time to move on.

But it's the way the Giants did it that has appalled many fellow players and fans. He was told he could keep starting the final games of the season to keep the streak alive but that he'd come out of games so the team could take a look at his backups. He wanted none of that. He said that was more about chasing hollow numbers than competing.

SIMON: Yeah. The NFL's been dealing with social actions and protests this season. They announced a social action plan initiative of their own this week. What do you see in it?

GOLDMAN: It's a response to the player protests begun by Colin Kaepernick last season, which, you know, multiplied this season. The NFL reportedly will put up about $90 million over seven years for social justice programs - programs that deal with improving education, community police relations, the criminal justice system. Some players still are suspicious of this and say the league is trying to buy its way out and get players to stop protesting. But there are a lot supporting the plan. And at the very least, this appears to be a step in a good direction.

SIMON: NPR's Tom Goldman, thanks so much for being back with us. Talk to you soon.

GOLDMAN: Always a pleasure, Scott.

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