Greens Lead to a Whole Other Type of Green

Times Staff Writer

Don’t let your babies grow up to be cowboys, as Willie Nelson suggests. Rear them to be golfers.

For the first time, two golfers head’s “Fortunate 50" as the richest U.S. athletes.

Tiger Woods is No. 1 at $97.6 million -- $10.6 million in winnings last year and $87 million in endorsements. No. 2 is Phil Mickelson at $45.9 million -- $5.9 million in winnings and $40 million in endorsements. Next are Shaquille O’Neal at $34 million -- $20-million yearly salary and $14 million in endorsements -- and Kobe Bryant at $33.6 million -- $15.6-million salary and $18 million in endorsements.

Noted “Look who’s playing second fiddle to Shaq again.”


Trivia time: Reggie Bush, who wore No. 5 at USC, will wear No. 25 with the New Orleans Saints because of NFL uniform number rules. Why did Pat Haden, who wore No. 10 at USC, switch to No. 11 with the Rams?

More on rich athletes: Bush, whose deal with the Saints is reportedly worth an average of about $10 million a year, is far behind another former Trojan, quarterback Carson Palmer of the Cincinnati Bengals.

Palmer is No. 5 on the list at $31.5 million, mainly because of a $24-million signing bonus he received.

No. 6 is LeBron James, with a salary of $4.6 million and endorsements worth $24 million. He’ll earn $5.8 million in salary next season, the last of his rookie deal before his recently signed three-year extension worth about $60 million kicks in.


A perk of wealth: James was a recent guest on FSN’s “Best Damn Sports Show Period” and was asked when was the last time he looked at a price tag before buying something.

“A long time ago,” he said.

The right attitude: James says it’s not always easy being out in public, but he also says, “I love being around people, and I don’t shy away from who I am. If people want to be around me, I think it’s pretty cool.”

Name game: Mike Downey of the Chicago Tribune points out that “Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby” is a must-see for Jeff Gordon, Robby Gordon, Mark Martin, Danica Patrick and “all of you other auto racing people out there with no last name.”


Looking back: On this day in 1963, the Cleveland Indians became the first American League team to hit four consecutive home runs -- No. 8 hitter Woodie Held hit a two-out homer, pitcher Pedro Ramos followed with his second homer of the game, and Tito Francona and Larry Brown hit their first major league homers. The Angels’ Paul Foytack became the first major league pitcher to give up four consecutive home runs.

Trivia answer: Kicker Tom Dempsey already had No. 10.

And finally: John Madden, who on Saturday will be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, was asked to summarize his life.

“I went from a player to a coach to a broadcaster,” he said. “Never worked a day in my life. I’ve been in recess all my life.”



Larry Stewart can be reached at