I respected his accomplishments and his style and his recognition of the power that they brought him. He turned himself into a billion dollar marketing machine and did good work through LiveStrong. Now he's fueling the machine with a return to racing, a great built-in rivalry with Alberto Contador likely to turn the publicity noise up for the Tour and he has a whole new round of endorsement deals. This is where Lance loses me a little bit.
It doesn’t bother me that he pimps for Nike and FRS, Trek, Oakley, 24 Hour Fitness, and others. It doesn’t bother me that he was paid a huge appearance fee to ride the Tour Down Under, while promoting his very noble LiveStrong cancer message, and it doesn’t bother me a bit that, as a speaker, he can demand a fee listed as “above $100,000.00”*. I’ve heard him speak to a group of about 5000 contractors who could give a rat’s ass about bike racing and many of whom would be voted “most likely to throw a beer bottle at cyclists”. By the time he was through with them, there wasn’t a dry eye in the house and they would have put him right up there with Old Glory and the Right To Bear Arms as a part of everything that is good about this great land of ours. He's worth the money.
So, what has Big Tex done to piss me off, you might ask?
He's always come across to me as a regular guy with remarkable abilities who has been dealt one hell of a hand and he's played it well. He could just as easily hang around with his riding buddies in Austin as he could hop a jet to Paris.
This is it:
The Look? What kind of look is this? Is Lance waiting for a friend to bring real beer?
Everybody who has been exposed to the years of Lance publicity knows that Lance is supposed to be a Shiner Bock guy. You know, when he retired, he was the guy who calls up some buds to ride around the ranch on mountain bikes, then rolls back to the hacienda for Mex food and a few Shiners. The good life of off-season. And now he's shilling for Michelob Ultra. Michelob Ultra. He can't really drink that shit, can he? No more beer? I knew the ranch was for sale, but did he leave Texas, already? Did the Texas leave Lance? Colorado has a bunch of really good beer, too, so we can't blame the move to Aspen. My friend, Mooney, and the many others who are loyal fans of both Lance and Shiner Bock, have got to feel a little slighted by this betrayal of the Shiner brotherhood.
C'mon, the cooler is full of Shiner. Gotta be! Take the check, Lance, but please don't try to tell me you'd drink that stuff.
Let's hope not, anyway.