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November 17, 1998|LARRY STEWART

What: "Real Sports With Bryant Gumbel"

Where: HBO

When: Tonight, 10:15 PST

John Daly makes an interesting subject, and maybe that's why Bryant Gumbel, who hosts and lends his name to HBO's award-winning sports magazine show, chose to interview Daly for the featured segment of four.

What makes Daly so interesting is that he should have it made, if for no other reason than he can hit a golf ball 350 yards. He should be rich, famous and happy. He's anything but. He tells Gumbel, at the end of the interview, he just wants to be happy.

Through the interview, we see a sorry soul, sober since March 1997, when, he says, he hit rock bottom. He still suffers the shakes. In August, at the Vancouver Open, he appeared to have a breakdown in front of a television camera, experiencing chills and severe shakes.

"I'm an addictive person, period," he tells Gumbel. "I'm a cross-addictor, which means you quit one thing and go to another. When I quit drinking for 4 1/2 years, I went to gambling. I quit both of those and went to eating. I'm an addictive person, period."

We get what appears to be an honest look at Daly, who talks about coming close to suicide in March 1997, and how thoughts of his two daughters saved him, about how efforts to save his third marriage have failed, and why golf cannot be his top priority.

Gumbel asks where golf fits in, and Daly says, "It used to be the top priority. But it's around third or fourth. If I put it back as No. 1, I won't have a career ahead of me."

Gumbel: "Because if it's No. 1 again, you're a dead man."

Daly: "As long as sobriety stays No. 1, I have a great opportunity in life. If I put golf ahead of that, yes, I am dead."

There is also a segment on the 1958 NFL championship game between the Baltimore Colts and New York Giants, which pales in comparison to a recent NFL Films video on the topic. It seems the main purpose of this piece is to let Frank Deford talk about his childhood memories.

But there are two other very good segments, one on an ultra-marathon in Colorado and one with Larry Merchant on what colleges will do to keep athletes eligible. The focus is Ohio State and linebacker Andy Katzenmoyer. Although maybe not the most interesting, this segment may be the most important.

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