February In The World Of Sports

Commentary By Channel 4 Sports Director Sam Kouvaris

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – It didn't take long. Two holes, two up.

Tiger Woods' return to professional golf looked like his final rounds before his departure: high, arching shots that end up close to the hole, solid putts, some birdies with an eagle or two thrown in an ultimately, a victory.

There were some questions about what Tiger would do in competition considering he has a rebuilt knee, a second child and hadn't played in nine months. He said once he got to the first tee it was "business as usual," which meant a notch or two above everybody else.

He won the first two hoes in his opening match and it was basically a walk to the win from there.

"You know he's going to come back at 180,000 percent," Rocco Mediate said before Tiger's return. "He'll win. I'll put money on it."

That's not a bad bet considering Tiger's history when it comes to his opening tournament, injury rehab or not. In Tiger's 13 opening season starts he's never missed the cut, had 12 top tens, 12 in a row in fact and he's won 6 times.

Where's The NFL Going?

Look at the players released in the last week or so: Fred Taylor, Derrick Brooks, Warrick Dunn Joey Galloway and Lavernaeus Coles. Could it be a sign of the economic times? Perhaps.

I don't think a million here or a million there makes a difference to an owner who thinks his team has a chance to win. But when it comes to rebuilding, or teams who know they're not going to be competitive, keeping veterans around with big salaries is not on the agenda.

The collective bargaining agreement has a provision that has a minimum salary for veteran players. So if that vet is not a starter, it's easy to replace him with a rookie or a second-year player making half the money.

The Jaguars have gotten trouble with that twice in their history. When the released Brant Boyer, Jeff Kopp and Tom McManus in favor of younger guys, their special teams production tailed off and they started to lose. This time it was Terry Cousins, Sammy Knight and Nick Greisen -- solid players who maybe weren't as tall or as fast as the guys they signed, but they were better locker room guys and better "football players."

Roger Goodell taking a pay cut is mostly symbolic -- considering he's making about $11 million per year -- but it is a signal that the league is serious about the economy. His pay cut is one of the things the league will point to when it comes to negotiating a new deal with the players. Frozen executive salaries and no ticket price increase are a couple of the other things the league will point to when it comes to asking the players for a better deal.

A-Rod Is What He Is

It's no surprise that Alex Rodriguez was booed in his first appearance at a spring training game. And no surprise that he homered in his first at bat. He's a great player, enhanced or not. I just wish he were on the Orioles. And that he could pitch.

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