What happened during halftime of the Monday night game between the Chargers and the Broncos in San Diego suggests that that Phil Mickelson is a good sport…and that fans shouldn’t risk offending whatever gods or imps preside over charitable endeavors, even if their teams are way ahead.
Accustomed as he is to silent golf galleries, Mickelson still agreed to attempt hit a golf ball from one end zone to a target in the other one while a typical NFL crowd buzzed and rocked and drank and shouted and jumped up and down wearing funny hats. The crowd seemed to approve of Mickelson’s endeavor with cheers.
But instead of hitting the blue dot in the center of the target, which would have meant a $1 million donation to a group that provides children in need with books, Mickelson could only just nick the big, green circle surrounding the bull’s eye, meaning that the charity only realized a $50,000 contribution. The relative flub inspired the San Diego fans to do their best imitation of a Philadelphia crowd with a chorus of boos.This silliness might have been dismissed as a minor if curiously ill-tempered instance of perverse crowd behavior, except for what transpired that Monday evening after Phil Mickelson had his photo taken with an oversized check and left the field, presumably to work on his short game. The booing would have passed unnoticed, or at least unnoted, if the football game sandwiching Mickelson’s effort had turned out to be routine.
But the game didn’t do that. During the second half, Peyton Manning led the visiting Denver Broncos out of the 24-0 hole into which the Chargers had cast them. The Broncos racked up 35 unanswered points on the way to the sort of comeback that sends fans of the losing team stampeding into the parking lot well before time runs out…the kind of comeback that provokes gamblers to abandon their homes, change their names and dye their hair.
There is a lesson here, and perhaps there are two. Certainly folks who were in the stands in San Diego Monday night must have gained a sense that you don’t mess with karma by booing a guy who’s tried to win a $1 million for charity by hitting a golf ball at a plastic target in a football stadium. Some of them may also have concluded that you don’t count Peyton Manning out, no matter whose colors he’s wearing, no matter how many points he’s down.