A tough job, but someone has to do it

Between watching birdies in the desert, ruminations on Manning vs. Brady, A-Rod's exile, Serena's possible return and the fitness genius of Gary Player.

We view the sports world this week from the outback of La Quinta. Rugged duty.

As the tournament, the Humana Challenge, moves from one lush golf course to another, players overcoming the occasional hardship of a shadow in their putting line, we find the column-writing grass just as green on the other side of the street.

For example, has there ever been a more confected story in sports than the Peyton Manning-Tom Brady rivalry? The next time some blow-dried media type shoves a microphone in either's face and asks how he "feels" about playing the other, just throw your shoe at the television screen.

Two little-known facts: Manning will face the Patriots' defense, not Brady. Brady will face the Broncos' defense, not Manning.

The closest they will get to each other in this greatly anticipated AFC title game is when it is over and they find each other to shake hands.

That's kind of confected too.

Might sports fans survive if TV didn't show us the postgame handshake between the two coaches and the two quarterbacks, each of whom always says "nice game," or a version thereof?

These postgame rituals have been shoved down our throats for so long that we actually think they are important. They aren't. Never will be.

Unless Jim Harbaugh runs up the score on Pete Carroll and Carroll asks him at midfield, "What's your deal?" Then you could be seeing actual news, as in punches thrown.

News of Clayton Kershaw's seven years and $215 million reaches the outback too.

Several thoughts: Don't blame Kershaw. He got what the market will bear. Blame the people who create the market with no thought of a breaking point somewhere down the road.

Also, if it seems disgusting that Kershaw will make more money per game than many will make per lifetime, consider that Kershaw is the kind of person who will give great gobs of it back to those in greater need.

News even reaches the outback from Mexico, where A-Rod went, apparently feeling it a safe haven, to tell the world that his yearlong suspension for using performance-enhancing drugs (again) might be a good thing, because it will give him "a year to rest."

Better yet, it gives us a year's rest from him.

Oh, and why, you ask, did he feel the need to go to Mexico to make this profound statement? Was Oprah busy?

The local paper in the outback had news too. The Desert Sun reported that Serena Williams appears to be considering a return to the Indian Wells tennis tournament, the BNP Paribas Open. In 2001, she won her way into the final when her sister, Venus, defaulted four minutes before their semifinal. In the final, Serena played, and beat, Kim Clijsters, but was booed early in the match.

People who were there that day remain split on conclusions:

—The people booing were upset because they had purchased tickets to see Venus versus Serena and were venting.

—The booing was racially motivated.

Williams has not been back since, and her absence has cost her millions in tour fines. Now, she has tweeted that she is reconsidering, thanks to Nelson Mandela's message of forgiveness.