My Life in and out of the Rough
Long John Teddy Bear
By Bernard Chapin
The sports autobiography may be one of the few genres in which the publishing industry has realized strong growth as there is no shortage of new releases concerning the athletes that so many of us admire. Golfer John Daly is the latest to tempt readers with an autobiography. Just after it was issued, it received considerable media attention, mostly due to its admission that the author gambled away, in the course of his career, over 50 to 60 million dollars.
My Life in and Out of the Rough: The Truth Behind All that Bull**** You Think You Know About Me promises to be a wild and "shocking" ride, but, strangely enough, it isn't as John Daly is one of the few people on this earth whose personality and essence closely correspond with his physical appearance. Simply due to repeated observation, readers will not be surprised to learn that he is impulsive, undisciplined, gluttonous, financially reckless, extremely emotional, friendly, kind, prone to bad habits, and a complete "Razorback Redneck" (in his own words). Golf is the only thing in life that he's ever been really good at, and the links were the only place he felt comfortable during his troubled childhood. We can sum him up by saying that he is the epitome of a southern good old boy who happens to be plagued by, in the vernacular of our day, some serious issues.
Regardless of our not being made privy to the mental health diagnosis given to him by the clinicians at the rehab clinics he attended or by the therapeutic representatives of his sponsor's Team Daly, it does not take a psychologist to discern that this is a rather troubled man. Daly's not so sure, however. In fine redneck fashion, he blames many of his problems on the medications doctors prescribed to ameliorate his actual problems. Then, he decides that he is not an alcoholic and excuses his drinking due to a belief that a future without beer would be far more punishing than one marred by pharmacy bottles and proscription. This is harmonious with his stated worldview, which he summarizes with the sentence: "My philosophy then, and my philosophy now, is that ‘it is what it is."
Such an opinion about the universe would meet with great approval today, and Daly's commonality may well be the principal reason why he is so beloved by fans. Like Bill Clinton, a president he never voted for, Long John possesses many of the same flaws the rest of us have which only serves to intensify his appeal. Daly also exudes charm and honesty which is evident in both this text and in media interviews.
His daily behaviors exemplify that he is not one to idly chat about personal philosophy. Daly follows his mantra and is what he is which means he has little interest in self-improvement. "The Lion," the nickname he most prefers, will smoke, drink beer, and eat at McDonalds until one of the habits kill him. Intentional exercise also is not something to which he can relate. All of this leads us to the one aspect about the "Big ‘Un" not readily detectable via observation which is his toxic level of masochism.
John Daly is a thoroughly self-destructive man. When he becomes upset, and this does not appear to be an infrequent occurrence, he responds by hurting himself as opposed to hurting others. He has trashed numerous hotel rooms, and even, after a fight with one of his wives, wrecked his own house. What these damages ended up costing him I cannot fathom.
The most disturbing element of his war on self, even more deleterious than his gambling, is the nature of his romantic relationships with women. Daly appears to be one of the few men who never heard the phrase and warning, "so if we get married, and it doesn't work out then she gets half of my stuff." Despite widespread knowledge of the way in which men, particularly wealthy men, are economically and spiritually destroyed by our civil court system, he decides to get married not once but an astounding four times. He is a gold digger's dream as he is incapable of learning from his mistakes. Daly may want to be called, The Lion, but to materialistic women everywhere he will always be known as "The Mark." He's the sucker they've been fantasizing about since they were old enough to pronounce the angelic word "Nordstrom's."
It is in this interpersonal area where his masochism is irrefutable. We know that he is perfectly aware of the pathology behind his matrimonial unions as he named one of his chapters, "All My Exes Wear Rolexes," but his cognizance has not altered his behavior. He is ripped off time and again by women who discard him as soon as they have put in the court mandated days for pension and earning vestment. One of his wives leaves him while he is on tour while another filed their divorce papers as he lay prone upon a hospital bed. Another, he went ahead and married despite the fact that he knew she had lied to him about her age, marital status, and that she had a child from her existing marriage. He disregarded her past fabrications as if they were warnings stamped upon a cigarette carton.
Daly's present wife, the love of his life, has recently been convicted of a felony and was serving a five-month prison sentence at the time the book was written. His reaction to her incarceration can be summed up in another chapter title, "Stand By Your Women," which is exactly what he's doing. Although, the only thing for certain is that if it had been him who committed the crime she'd be standing by her lawyer.
All of these blunders should not amount to our being over-sympathetic towards the author as he is an adult who has made his own willful choices. He may be naïve and ignorant but he is not stupid. These recurring disasters have been inflicted and enabled by his own mind. They are psychologically satisfying to him in a way to which the rest of us cannot easily relate. He rebelled whenever friends, family, sponsors, doctors, and society tried to change him which means that he will remain uneven and unfinished forever. The only consolation is that, when the final tallies are penciled onto the scorecard, the only person he's ever really hurt is himself.Bernard Chapin is a Chicago based writer and one time winner of the Moveon.org "He's the Real Liberal" award. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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