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Even after 23 years as a broadcaster, Ahmad Rashad still looks like he could play football.
Even after 23 years as a broadcaster, Ahmad Rashad still looks like he could play football. (Chris Baldwin/GolfPublisher.com)

Softball interviewer Ahmad Rashad not easy on Wie or sports' money culture

Chris BaldwinBy Chris Baldwin,

Ahmad Rashad is best known for athlete interviews that are as hard-hitting as an 8-year-old ballerina. He was such a "confidante" to Michael Jordan that rumor has it the sportscaster once asked His Airness if he was saying "Hi" right.

See? Ahmad Rashad jokes are fun.

For everyone but Ahmad Rashad, that is. Meet the man pitching the softballs and you'd never think you were talking to the poster mic for sports-TV jokes.

For one thing, Rashad still carries himself like a four-time Pro Bowl wide receiver than a TV guy, even if he's now been in broadcasting more than twice as long as an NFL player (23 years and counting).

For another, the Rashad that BadGolfer.com caught up with at a celebrity golf tournament in Nevada earlier this year was anything but soft in his opinions.

He ripped on modern athletes' lack of motivation and called Michelle Wie's career "an exhibition."

True, he was smiling that perfect TV smile the whole time. But the former Bobby Moore (he changed his name when he converted to Islam in 1972) is anything but an ever-ready pushover - especially when it comes to golf.

Rashad clearly takes his "retirement" sport seriously, unleashing a good golf swing with apparent ease.

His adopted name means "admirable one led to truth," and he was admirably forthright with us.

BadGolfer.com: When did you first start taking golf seriously?

Ahmad Rashad: Seven years ago. Maybe seven years ago.

What got you into it then?

Ahmad Rashad: You'd better ask that to those who aren't obsessed with it. It's the greatest game in the world because it's all about how good you can be. And it's so many different shots, so many different aspects of the game. It's a mind-full for an afternoon. And it's just a wonderful way to compete against yourself and do something that's a lot of fun in some of the best places in the world.

How competitive do you get out there?

Ahmad Rashad: The great thing about golf is it's a competition within yourself. It's not like you're trying to beat the other guy. You're just trying to play better golf for yourself. Hit a better swing. Hit a better shot. And that competition level is always high.

Does it compare at all to football? To catching a pass over the middle in traffic knowing you're going to get hit?

Ahmad Rashad: Mentally. Just the concentration to do things correctly. That's the only way it compares. As a professional athlete, you always wanted to be mentally efficient. And in golf you try to do that, and that's the challenge.

BadGolfer.com: You're a former famous athlete, a celebrity yourself, and now you're a member of the media interviewing other athletes. How do you balance that? Don't the roles often conflict?

Ahmad Rashad: I work and I separate myself from all that. I never change in any sort of way. When I'm working I'm working and when I'm not working I'm not. There's no conflict at all.

BadGolfer.com: Do you set goals for yourself in golf?

Ahmad Rashad: Yeah, sometimes. Like last year I set a goal about trying to get my handicap down to about a two. And I got it down to one. And this year I'm going to try and get down to zero. That will probably be my goal forever, to get down to zero. Until I get too old and then I have to move it up.

BadGolfer.com: What do you think of the Michelle Wie phenomenon and the approach she's taking?

Ahmad Rashad: I think in all sports things come quickly. The purity of the game is you've got to win. Or you're supposed to win first. But now because of the aspect of people just popping [up] out there, you can be rich before winning anything.

I'd love to see her win every women's tournament. Before she starts messing around with the men's tournaments. You know, go win all those tournaments first. Because otherwise it's like an exhibition.

I think she's one of the most talented players to come along in a long time. And I'd just like to see her win all the things she can win before going into tournaments that are sort of a novelty.

BadGolfer.com: Is that the biggest thing that's changed in sports from when you were playing? That now athletes are famous even before they really accomplish a lot?

Ahmad Rashad: Yes. Yes. Now people are famous and rich before they've done anything. So it's pretty hard to keep the motivation up. What's your motivation? If they paid you all the money first in your job, what would be your motivation?

You have to be a really special person to go out and do it anyway. And they have people that can do that. Don't get me wrong.

BadGolfer.com: You're pretty close with Michael Jordan. How do you think he's doing as part-owner of the Charlotte Bobcats?

Ahmad Rashad: Oh, he'll be fine. That's what he's been wanting to do for a long time. And now he has his own team from an ownership standpoint. He will be able to do what he's been wanting to be able to do for years. So everybody's very happy for him.

Chris Baldwin keeps one eye on the PGA Tour and another watching golf vacation hotspots and letting travelers in on the best place to vacation.

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